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Typhoon toll at 23 in Philippines, many stranded

Written by: Staff

Manila, May 13: A typhoon whipped through the northwestern Philippines today, killing at least 23 people in stormy seas and leaving more than 10,000 people stranded as air and ferry services were suspended.

Most of those killed were from a boat that capsized off Masbate island in the south of Luzon region, the Coast Guard said.

At least 21 people on the vessel, named the Mae Ann, were killed and 18 were rescued, Coast Guard spokesman Joseph Coyme told reporters in Manila, citing details from the Coast Guard's district commander in Bicol region.

A fisherman also drowned while his four companions were rescued when their boat sank in rough seas off the coast of Negros Occidental province in central Philippines, the coast guard said.

In Batangas province, near Manila, a 36-year-old woman was killed after a fence swept by floods crashed into her hut, officials told local radio.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council said about 24,000 people were either affected or displaced by Typhoon Chanchu.

Hundreds of families fled to evacuation centres as Chanchu, with gusts of up to 120 kph (75 mph), battered a wide area.

In Manila, winds blew over billboards and snapped tree branches, causing power outages in some parts of the city.

In Bicol region, flooding and strong winds destroyed the homes of 300 families.

Some power suppliers were expected to resume services in Bicol on Saturday after automatically shutting them down during the peak of the storm yesterday.

Chanchu is slowly moving west but will continue to cause bad weather in the Philippines for another day or so. Weather Web site www.tropicalstormrisk.com forecasts the typhoon strengthening to a category four storm, with five the maximum, in the next few days as it turns northwest towards Hong Kong.

''It's now in the South China Sea, with winds of 110 kph and gusts of 140 kph,'' Ludy Alviar, a meteorologist at the Philippine weather bureau, told Reuters.

About 20 typhoons hit the Philippine archipelago each year, with around half a dozen crossing the country, mostly during the rainy season that runs from mid-May to September.


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