16 dead as typhoon batters Philippines (Lead)

July 14th, 2010 - 12:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Manila, July 14 (DPA) At least 16 people were killed and 22 were 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, bringing 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 falling trees across Cavite province, just south of Manila, Governor Jonvic Remulla said.

Police said two of the fatalities were a 35-year-old mother and her two-year-old daughter when a mango tree fell on their house in Cavite’s Trece Martirez City, 45 km north of Manila.

Six people also drowned and three were missing when their houses were swept away by floodwaters in Laurel and Talisay towns in the nearby province of Batangas at the height of the typhoon late Tuesday.

Two more people were killed when they were crushed by falling poles in Taytay town in Rizal province while a man was drowned in a creek that overflowed in Calamba City in nearby Laguna province.

Major Harold Cabunoc, a regional army spokesman, said three people were also killed in the eastern province of Camarines Norte.

Cabunoc said 19 fishermen were missing after four small motorised boats capsized Tuesday off the eastern province of Catanduanes.

Search and rescue operations for the missing fishermen were being hampered by continued bad weather, Cabunoc added.

President Benigno Aquino III met with senior relief and rescue officials Wednesday at military headquarters to assess the havoc brought by Conson.

Aquino urged officials of the weather bureau to take steps to improve their forecasts to minimize damage caused by typhoons.

“This is not acceptable,” he said. “All other agencies have met their responsibilities at this point in time, but your information is sorely lacking. We have had this problem for quite a long time.”

Many roads in Manila were blocked by electrical poles and trees toppled by Conson’s winds, which also caused heavy equipment used in the construction of an overhead highway to collapse.

A wide area in Manila and nearby provinces lost power after transmission lines were damaged. Most school classes were suspended while some offices called off work.

Power officials said the electrical outages could last overnight in some areas because of serious damage to transmission lines.

Several local and domestic flights from Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport were suspended early Wednesday while four international arrivals were diverted to the central city of Cebu.

The weather bureau said Conson with maximum sustained winds of 120 km per hour and gusts of up to 150 kph has weakened as it moved toward the South China Sea.

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