Typhoon death toll rises as floods sweep Philippines

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MANILA, Nov 28 (Reuters) The death toll from Typhoon Mitag today climbed to 19 after more people were drowned by flooding in the northern Philippines, disaster officials said.

Mitag, which ripped through the archipelago earlier this week, weakened to a tropical depression and has bypassed Taiwan en route back to the Pacific Ocean.

Four people drowned in Cagayan and Isabela provinces, where swollen rivers blocked roads and bridges while another three were killed in the western island of Palawan.

At least 12 people had previously been reported killed in drownings, landslides and electrocutions caused by Mitag, a category 1 typhoon with winds of 120 kph.

Mitag caused (3.8 million dollar) worth of damage to farmlands, houses and infrastructure but the destruction was less than feared.

Hagibis, which means ''rapidity'' in the Philippines' Tagalog language, had already killed 14 people in the Philippines last week and radio reports said that it had killed at least four children in the western island of Palawan on its return trip.

Disaster officials have yet to confirm the deaths.

Hagibis has passed over the Bicol region and is heading out towards the Philippine Sea, according to typhoon tracking Web site Tropical Storm Risk (www.tropicalstormrisk.com).

Officials said another tropical depression was expected to dump rain over the Philippines' eastern seaboard later this week.

Hundreds of families were already evacuated from the north and south of the archipelago after large waves destroyed houses and fishing boats.

Storms regularly batter the Philippines. Last year, Typhoon Durian killed 1,200 people and left 120,000 homeless when it crashed through Bicol in December.

REUTERS SW BST0825

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