Powerful Typhoon Slams Into Northeastern Philippines

Monday, November 26th 2007, 5:19 am
By: News On 6

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Typhoon Mitag slammed into the northeastern Philippines after killing at least 10 people in other parts of the country, while a deadly storm that blew away days earlier headed back Monday, complicating emergency preparations.

Most of the deaths were due to drowning over the weekend in two eastern provinces before Mitag changed course and plowed further north into Isabela province.

A Philippine air force jet carrying two pilots disappeared in foul weather Monday while searching for 26 Filipino crewmen whose fishing boat sank last week near the disputed Spratly islands in the South China Sea, the air force said.

Mitag weakened into a tropical storm later Monday and was moving away from the northern Philippines with maximum sustained winds of 68 mph and gusts of up to 87 miles, the weather bureau reported.

After hitting land in Isabela late Sunday, it veered toward the country's mountainous northern provinces, where authorities evacuated thousands of people due to fears of landslides.

The typhoon flooded at least 50 villages in Isabela, a province of more than a million people. A swollen river in the provincial capital, Ilagan, engulfed at least 10 houses, officials said. Most of Isabela had no power.

In nearby Cagayan province, strong winds toppled trees and knocked down power posts, cutting off electricity in the province of nearly a million, Gov. Alvaro Antonio said. The province's rice industry suffered losses.

``We were just one or two weeks away from harvest time. I'm afraid we've lost everything to the flood and strong winds,'' Antonio said by telephone.

The Agriculture Department estimated losses at $2.5 million, still a fraction of the $246 million incurred during last year's typhoons.

A landslide last Sunday covered a road in the resort town of Pagudpud, in northern Ilocos Norte province, blocking buses and cars but apparently causing no injuries. Troops were deployed to clear the road.

Classes were suspended in several provinces, partly because some were used to shelter evacuees.

Mitag has been the most erratic of the 13 typhoons and major storms that have hit the Philippines this year. It first headed for the populous Bicol region, where more than 250,000 people were evacuated, but shifted Saturday to the north.

As authorities scrambled to shift their focus to the northern provinces of Isabela, Aurora and Cagayan, forecasters said a typhoon that killed 13 people in the Philippines last week before heading for Vietnam had reversed direction.

Hagibis, weakened to a tropical storm, re-entered the country's waters Monday and was expected to lash the western Philippine province of Palawan on Tuesday, forecasters said.

Disaster-response agencies, along with troops and police, were ordered to brace again for Hagibis, a Philippine name for rapidly galloping animals.

Mitag and Hagibis were affecting each other, resulting in their erratic movements, government forecaster Frisco Nilo said.


On the Net:

Philippine weather agency: http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph/

Typhoon tracking site: http://www.typhoon2000.ph