Thu, May 20, 2004 - Page 5 News List

19 dead as typhoon tips ferry, triggers landslides

NIDA RELIEF Eight Philippine provinces are placed under a `state of calamity' to access emergency funds for hundreds left homeless

AP , VIRAC, PHILIPPINES

A young Filipina stands next to the ruins of her house yesterday after Typhoon Nida pounded the island province of Catanduanes in the central Philippines, killing at least 19 people and damaging crops and infrastructure worth an estimated US$1.3 million.

PHOTO: REUTERS

A powerful typhoon triggered landslides, destroyed houses and capsized a ferry, killing at least 19 people and leaving hundreds homeless in the Philippines, officials said yesterday as the storm blew toward Japan.

Typhoon Nida, packing winds of 150kph and gusts of 185kph, headed away from the northern Philippines after ravaging several eastern provinces.

At least eight people were killed and several others were reported missing after the wooden-hulled M/B St. Martin ferry overturned late Tuesday when its bamboo outrigger broke in choppy waters off the central Camotes islands, coast guard chief Vice Admiral Arturo Gosingan said. It was carrying 168 passengers and crew.

Nearby fishing boats rescued some passengers and coast guard divers scoured the sea for others. Authorities were trying to determine how many people were missing, Gosingan said.

"We're hoping only the eight were killed and all the others were saved," he told reporters by telephone.

Eleven others were killed elsewhere, including a man hit by lightning on central Antique island and a 65-year-old woman pinned by a fallen coconut tree. At least 10 people, mostly fishermen, were reported missing, officials said.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo placed eight eastern provinces under a "state of calamity," enabling local officials to draw money for relief efforts from emergency funds.

In Catanduanes Province, hundreds of houses were destroyed by landslides in three villages in mountainous Gigmoto town, leaving about 700 families homeless, the government's disaster response agency said.

Gigmoto Mayor Amando Guerrero, who was in Manila when the typhoon struck, headed home yesterday with other officials and a truckload of food and clothes. He said some of the homeless had moved to a school, a church and the town hall.

Nida, the fourth typhoon to hit the archipelago this year, also stranded more than 15,000 people after authorities halted sea travel to prevent accidents.

As the weather improved some ferries were allowed to sail, officials said.

Nearly 3,000 people were evac-uated in areas where the typhoon passed, including northern Nueva Ecija Province, where hurricane-force winds destroyed houses in at least seven villages, officials said.

About 20 storms and typhoons hit the Philippines annually.

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