Mon, May 19, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Many displaced as tropical storm hits northern Philippines

AFP , MANILA

Tropical storm Halong battered the northern Philippines yesterday with powerful winds triggering floods and landslides and displacing about 6,000 people, relief officials said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties but the civil defense office in Manila said huge waves known as storm surges destroyed 23 houses and 12 fishing boats while displacing 845 people in the towns of Iba and nearby Botolan, about 145km northwest of the capital.

The northwestern coast of the main Philippine island of Luzon as well as the northern mountain resort of Baguio were without electricity while the coastguard barred small ferries from taking to sea, it said in a report.

More than 5,000 other people were displaced by flooding and landslides in the central island of Panay when the storm brushed past the region last week, the relief agency said in a statement.

The storm struck the country’s northwest coast overnight on Saturday at wind speeds of 95kph before weakening slightly to 85kph as it raked northeast across the Cordillera mountain range, the weather bureau said.

Floods cut off key roads in Panay, the neighboring island of Mindoro and northern Luzon while landslides damaged a house and shut down roads to Baguio and nearby areas in the Cordillera, it said in an update.

The storm uprooted trees and even a school building in Iba, where a Philippine Army battalion of about 500 soldiers mounted a search and rescue operation for families displaced by the storm surges, it said.

In the town of San Jose, in the central Luzon plain east of Iba, residents laid sandbags to protect their village from rising floodwaters, the agency said.

The eye of the storm was tracked 30km east of the northern city of Tuguegarao at 10am, the weather bureau said.

It was expected to cross the Sierra Madre mountain range and blow out into the sea off Luzon’s northeast coast early today, it said.

The bureau warned residents of low-lying areas and near mountain slopes across Luzon to “take all the necessary precautions against possible flashfloods and landslides,” saying the storm was enhancing the rain-laden seasonal winds of the southwest monsoons.

Luzon’s west coast and the islands on the western half of the central Philippines could be hit by big waves, it said.

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