Most powerful typhoon of 2013 hits the Philippines, leaves at least 9 missing

Two girls stay close to their mother during heavy rain in Manila, Philippines, on Sunday. Aaron Favila / AP

MANILA - The year's most powerful typhoon slammed into the Philippines on Monday, triggering landslides and floods, cutting power and communications and leaving nine fishermen missing, weather and disaster officials said.

Typhoon Utor, packing winds of 87 mph near its center and gusts of up to 105 mph, weakened slightly after hitting the country's north and is moving slowly west-northwest at 12 mph, the officials said.

The coastal town of Casiguran in Aurora province, 231 miles northeast of the capital Manila, suffered the worst damage, after Utor set off landslides that blocked its only access road.

Devastation ranged from uprooted trees, fallen lampposts and tangled power lines to several flattened houses, a television broadcast showed.

The typhoon, the 12th tropical cyclone this year, is expected to sweep through the northern Philippine provinces of Benguet and Ilocos Sur before exiting towards the South China Sea by Tuesday, disaster and weather officials said.

The national disaster agency said there were no reports of casualties so far but nine fishermen were missing from the southeastern coastal provinces of Camarines Norte and Catanduanes.

About 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year, often causing death and destruction. A state of national calamity was declared last December after typhoon Bopha killed more than 700 people in the resource-rich south, but most storms make landfall further north.