Weakened Typhoon Blows Toward Japan, Leaves 17 Dead In Philippines

Tuesday, November 27th 2007, 5:56 am
By: News On 6

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ A powerful typhoon that weakened into a tropical storm blew toward southern Japan on Tuesday, leaving at least 17 people dead in the Philippines, officials said.

Twenty-one other people remain missing from Tropical Storm Mitag, as another weather disturbance _ Tropical Depression Hagibis _ crossed Mindoro island, south of Manila, disaster relief officials and forecasters said.

Mitag weakened further as it hovered over the northern Babuyan islands with sustained winds of 65 kph (40 mph) and gusts of up to 80 kph (50 mph). It was forecast to be 210 kilometers (130 miles) south of Okinawa, Japan by Wednesday morning.

Hagibis, which weakened from a tropical storm, blew across the southern half of Mindoro, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Manila around 4 p.m. (0800 GMT) Tuesday, packing winds of up to 55 kph (34 miles), the weather bureau said.

Hagibis killed 13 people in the country last week before heading for Vietnam. It reversed its position and turned back to the Philippines, complicating emergency preparations.

Fatalities from Mitag rose to 17 Tuesday, after three people were reportedly killed in western Palawan province and two men drowned in northern Cagayan province, the Office of Civil Defense reported.

Eighteen other people remain missing in Kalinga and nearby Apayao province, including two families with eight members each whose houses were washed out by landslides in Kalinga's Pinukpuk town, said Elvira Calina, OCD's chief in that region. Two men reported missing in a landslide in Kalinga were later found alive, she said.

In northern Cagayan province, a 20-year old man is missing and may have drowned, OCD said.

A Philippine air force jet with two pilots also disappeared while searching for 26 Filipinos whose fishing boat sank last week near the Spratly islands in the South China Sea, the air force said.

Disaster relief officials said nearly 450,000 people were affected by Mitag, with more than 200,000 people moved to evacuation centers.