Typhoon kills 24 in Philippines

/ Source: The Associated Press

A powerful typhoon dumped heavy rains, triggered landslides and left at least 24 people dead and three missing in the northern Philippines, officials said Friday.

Typhoon Cha-hom was packing maximum winds of 75 miles per hour when it made landfall overnight in Pangasinan province, north of Manila. It rapidly weakened into a tropical storm after crossing the mountains of Cordillera and Sierra Madre, and continued to lose strength as it moved away from the country, forecasters said.

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said at least 12 people died in Pangasinan, one of the worst-hit provinces.

Nine people were killed in landslides in two villages in Ifugao province's Kiangan town, popular for its mountainside rice terraces, the National Disaster Coordinating Council reported. The dead include children ages 10-15 years.

A 4-year-old child drowned in Bataan province, a man was killed by a dislodged iron sheet in La Union province, and another man died of a heart attack in northwestern Zambales province, the disaster center said. At least nine people also were injured during the storm.

Areas in Pangasinan were isolated by flooded roads and toppled trees, and soldiers had to be sent in to clear the debris, Teodoro said. In one coastal town, he said he saw several collapsed houses.

In central Iloilo province, a passenger vessel ran aground amid strong winds and big waves, but the coast guard rescued all 80 people aboard, Radio DZBB reported.

Another 1,000 passengers and 71 vessels were stranded in ports because of the storm, which forecasters said was moving east of the Philippines toward southern Japan.

Cha-hom, a word for a tree in Laos, is the second cyclone to hit the Philippines in a week. At least 27 people died and 55,000 were forced from their homes during last week's storm that lashed the northeastern Philippines.

About 20 typhoons and storms hit the country each year, but forecasters said they usually do not appear this early and that the extreme weather may have been caused by global warming.