A tropical storm blew across the central Philippines on Wednesday, whipping up a tornado that ripped the roofs off houses and killed four fishermen, officials. Two more people drowned in floods.
The storm, packing sustained winds of 46 miles per hour, first struck eastern Samar province Tuesday and by Wednesday was roaring westward over the central Philippines toward the South China Sea. Nearly 10,000 people were stranded aboard hundreds of ferries and motorboats, which were ordered to stay docked for safety, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said.
More than 60 domestic flights were canceled, airline officials said.
In mountainous Quezon province, about 70 miles southeast of Manila, a tornado struck a fishing boat that had taken cover in a cove, killing four fishermen and injuring two others late Tuesday.
All six were sleeping on the boat near Perez township when the tornado hit, Mayor Pepito Reyes said.
The tornado took the roofs off of two houses before dissipating near a forested mountain, he said.
"The twister lifted the boat and hurled it back into the waters, pinning and drowning the fishermen," Reyes told The Associated Press by telephone.
Two people drowned in central Cebu province Tuesday. Eleven people, including five fishermen, disappeared in floodwaters and rough seas in Samar and nearby regions, disaster-response officials said.
Huge waves and strong winds battered and overturned a passenger boat off central Mactan Island Tuesday. Philippine coast guard ships rescued all 14 aboard, officials said.
Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro warned villagers living in flood- and landslide-prone areas to be vigilant and start moving to shelters if they feel threatened.
The storm, with winds gusting up to 56 miles per hour, destroyed at least 70 houses in Samar and in nearby Romblon province, including 20 homes that were swept away by a tornado. It was expected to pass about 50 miles southwest of the densely populated capital, Manila, late Wednesday before moving into the South China Sea on Thursday, forecasters said.
Army trucks and helicopters were on stand by with emergency food and medicine packages in key cities.
Classes were suspended as the storm flooded and knocked out power in several villages in central provinces and in Manila, officials said.
The storm, internationally named Nangka, is the sixth to hit the Philippines this year. About 20 typhoons and storms lash the archipelago annually.