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Trees crush kids, fishermen missing as typhoon lashes Philippines

The first typhoon to lash the Philippines this year flooded parts of the capital and killed at least 26 people, many of them trying to scramble to safety as the storm changed course.
Image: Powerful typhoon batters the northern and eastern Philippines
Debris is seen after Typhoon Conson hits Manila, Philippines, on Wednesday.Dennis M. Sabangan / EPA
/ Source: The Associated Press

The first typhoon to lash the Philippines this year flooded parts of the capital, toppled power lines and killed at least 26 people Wednesday, many of them trying to scramble to safety as the storm changed course.

Thirty-eight people were missing, mostly fishermen who were caught by the storm's fury at sea.

More than half of the main northern island of Luzon, which includes Manila, was without electricity, and authorities said it would take two to three days to restore power. Several dozen flights were canceled, and schools and many government offices closed. High winds felled trees and floods were knee-deep floods in some communities in the capital.

Many died while fleeing the typhoon's fury, regional disaster operations officer Fred Bragas said. The 26 deaths were spread over six provinces and a city, mostly near Manila.

In Batangas province, a 47-year-old woman was electrocuted by a power line that snapped, and a 12-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother died after a large mango tree crashed into their home as they slept, said regional disaster operations officer Fred Bragas.

In nearby Cavite province, a woman and her daughter were killed by a falling tree, Bragas said. Another child drowned after falling into a raging river, provincial spokesman Filomeno Maligaya told DZBB radio.

Newly elected President Benigno Aquino III scolded the weather bureau for failing to predict that the storm would hit Manila.

"This is unacceptable," Aquino told officials during a meeting of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, noting that government agencies were relying on the weather bureau for their preparations. "I hope this is the last time we are all brought to areas different from where we should be."

Weather bureau chief Prisco Nilo explained that it takes forecasters six hours to update weather bulletins. The weather bureau has complained of lack of funding and equipment.

The Philippines is hit by about 20 typhoons and storms a year, gaining a reputation as the welcome mat for the most destructive cyclones from the Pacific. Last year, back-to-back typhoons inundated Manila and outlying provinces, killing nearly 1,000 people.

Typhoon Conson came ashore on the east coast of Luzon on Tuesday night with winds of 75 miles per hour, said government weather forecaster Bernie de Leon. It weakened to a tropical storm as it crossed the rice-growing island and buffeted Manila on Luzon's west coast for two hours.

The storm then headed out to the South China Sea before dawn and is expected to make landfall again later this week in China, west of Macau.

One man drowned trying to save a dozen pigs in a swollen lake south of Manila, while his companion was swept away and is missing, Bragas said.

A concrete wall of a cement warehouse collapsed and pinned four carpenters to death in southern Laguna province while a landslide killed a man in his house in nearby Tagaytay City. The man's son remains missing in the landslide, Bragas said.

In Quezon province, four fishermen drowned and 18 others were rescued after huge waves and strong winds battered their motor boats as they raced toward an island to seek shelter late Tuesday, provincial governor David Suarez told The Associated Press.

epa02247751 A general view of the beams of a collapsed crane brought down by strong winds from Typhoon Conson at the South Luzon Expressway in Paranaque city, south of Manila, Philippines on 14 July 2010. At least four people were killed and 19 others went missing as a powerful typhoon battered the northern and eastern Philippines, officials said Wednesday. Typhoon Conson made landfall late Tuesday in north-eastern Quezon province, delivering heavy rains and strong winds to Manila and several provinces in the main northern island of Luzon. Four people were killed after being hit by debris and toppled trees across Cavite province, just south of Manila, according to provincial Governor Jonvic Remulla. EPA/FRANCIS R. MALASIGFrancis R. Malasig / EPA

Villagers and the coast guard have launched a search for the 27 missing fishermen, he said.

Another nine fishermen were rescued after big waves overturned their boats off the island province of Catanduanes, regional military spokesman Maj. Harold Cabunoc said. The other 10 remained missing.

The Manila International Airport Authority said 63 flights, including four international ones, had been canceled and nine had been diverted since late Tuesday.

Classes were suspended in schools and most universities in Manila. Several government offices, including the Senate, closed because of the power outage. Thousands of commuters were stranded when the blackouts disrupted train services. Many hotels and shopping malls were relying on their own generators.

Residents wade through a flooded street at Las Pinas, south of Manila on Wednesday July 14, 2010 hours after typhoon Conson lashed through Manila and other provinces in the Philippines. The first typhoon to lash the Philippines this year has toppled trees and power lines, causing widespread blackouts, canceling flights, classes and suspending work in some government offices. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)Bullit Marquez / AP

Heavy rains, unrelated to the typhoon, have also wreaked havoc in China and Japan. The death toll from rain-triggered landslides rose to 41 in western China, and workers raced to drain overflowing reservoirs in the southeast. Flooding has killed more than 100 people in China so far this month, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Storms in southern and western Japan left one dead and three missing. A woman drowned in a swollen river, and two women in their 70s were among the missing, according to police. Nearly 10,000 homes were evacuated.

More rain was predicted into Thursday in both Japan and China.