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Typhoon strikes Philippines; 1 dead

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

MANILA, Philippines -- A powerful typhoon slammed ashore the northern Philippines today local time, unleashing floods, cutting power and halting work in the capital, Manila. Authorities ordered more than 100,000 people to shelter from rains and wind gusts of up to 106 miles per hour.

At least one person -- a baby -- drowned, and four fishermen were reported missing.

Typhoon Nesat made landfall over eastern mountainous Isabela and Aurora provinces which face the Pacific Ocean, packing sustained winds of 87 mph, the government weather bureau said.

With its 400-mile cloud band, the typhoon threatened to foul weather across the entire main Luzon Island as it moves across the Philippines toward the South China Sea late Wednesday or early Thursday local time and then heads toward southern China.

Heavy downpours and wind prompted the closure of government offices, schools and universities in the capital, while scores of domestic flights were canceled and inter-island ferries grounded, stranding thousands. The Philippine Stock Exchange and U.S. Embassy were also closed today local time.

A year-old baby drowned in the central island province of Cataduanes after falling into a river, the government disaster agency reported. Four fishermen were missing while more than 50 others were rescued along eastern shores after their boats overturned in choppy seas.

A tornado in Isabela's Maconancon town ripped off the roofs of at least five houses, injuring two people, police said.

Power was cut in many parts of Luzon, including in Manila, where hospitals, hotels and emergency services used generators. Tree branches and torn tarpaulins littered the flooded streets. Traffic was light as most people stayed indoors.

About 112,000 people were ordered to leave their homes in five towns prone to flash floods and landslides in central Albay province. By Monday, more than 50,000 had moved to government-run evacuation centers and relatives' homes, officials said.

"We can't manage typhoons, but we can manage their effects," Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said.

The typhoon bore down on the Philippines exactly two years after nearly 500 people died in the worst flooding in decades in Manila, a city of 12 million, when a tropical storm hit.

Residents commemorated the anniversary by offering prayers and planting trees Monday.

Nesat is the 16th cyclone to lash the Philippines this year. The geography of the archipelago makes it a welcome mat for about 20 storms and typhoons forming in the Pacific each year.


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