Latest typhoon kills four on northern edge of the Philippines

Storm headed north to Taiwan

A squatter area on the outskirts of Manila was flooded yesterday after Typhoon Parma pummeled the Philippines. A squatter area on the outskirts of Manila was flooded yesterday after Typhoon Parma pummeled the Philippines. (Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images)
By Rohan Sullivan
Associated Press / October 4, 2009

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MANILA - Typhoon Parma cut a path across the Philippines’ northern edge yesterday, killing four people but sparing the capital from a second flood disaster as the storm churned toward Taiwan.

Tens of thousands of Filipinos had evacuated their homes as the storm bore down on the main island of Luzon just eight days after an earlier tempest left Manila awash in floods that killed almost 300 people.

Also helping to reduce the damage, Parma weakened and changed course overnight Friday so it missed central Luzon and clipped the more sparsely populated and mountainous north.

Still, winds of 108 miles per hour battered towns in at least two provinces and pelted the northeast part of the country with downpours that swelled rivers to bursting, toppled power pylons and trees, and cut communication lines to outlying towns, officials said.

Parma was heading northwest toward Taiwan, which declared a storm warning yesterday and began evacuating villages in southern Kaohsiung County, where 700 people were killed in a typhoon in August.

“The typhoon could bring torrential rain and trigger flash flooding, so government agencies should be prepared,’’ said Eric Chu, the vice prime minister.

In the Philippines’ hard-hit Isabela Province, one man drowned and another died from exposure to the cold and wet weather, said Lieutenant Colonel Loreto Magundayao of an army division based there.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council said another two people died from the storm in the eastern province of Camarines Sur - one man fell from a roof and a two-year-old boy drowned.

Parma hit the coast mid-afternoon yesterday, and local officials said the true extent of the damage would not be known until communications are restored with outlying areas today or later.

“The damage is quite heavy,’’ Roberto Damian, the police chief of Cagayan Province, told ABS-CBN television. “We are clearing highways and roads to reach people calling for rescue.’’

In Ilagan, Isabela’s capital, the swollen Cagayan River rose enough to swamp two bridges, officials said. In the Cagayan city of Tuguegarao, telephone lines were down and mobile services were intermittent, said Chito Castro, regional director for the Office of Civil Defense.

Ahead of the storm, weather bureau chief Prisco Nilo warned that heavy rain could trigger landslides and flooding, and strong winds could create tidal surges along the eastern coast.

Manila escaped the worst of the storm. On Sept. 26, Tropical Storm Ketsana caused the worst flooding in four decades, killing at least 288 people and damaging the homes of 3 million.

Rain fell in the city most of yesterday, and stiff gusts blew, but no new flooding or damage was immediately reported.

Before the storm hit, officials in eastern provinces judged they were no longer in danger and began moving back people who had been evacuated from coastal areas that might have been in the path of the storm.