Source AP ©

Typhoon Mitag slams into northeastern Philippines after killing 8

Deadly storm, that complicated emergency preparations, headed back, giving way to powerful Typhoon Mitag that slammed into the northeastern Philippines after destroying houses and killing 8 people in other parts of the country.

Mitag roared into the coastal town of Palanan in Isabela province late Sunday, its sustained wind weakening but remaining dangerous at 120 kilometers (74 miles) per hour with gusts of up to 150 kph (93 mph), chief government forecaster Nathaniel Cruz said.

After hitting land, 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, whose residents fled to safety late Sunday, officials said, adding that most of Isabela had no power.

In nearby Cagayan province, two villagers drowned Sunday. 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 told The Associated Press by telephone.

The Agriculture Department estimated losses at US$2.5 million ( EUR 1.7 million), still a fraction of the US$246 million ( EUR 186 million) incurred during last year's typhoons.

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

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

Among the eight dead, five people drowned and another was electrocuted over the weekend in southeastern Camarines Sur province, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.

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, was expected to lash the western Philippine province of Palawan on Tuesday.

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. Government forecasters were also monitoring a new low pressure area that could develop into a storm over the Pacific Ocean and affect the Philippines in a few days.

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