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10 dead after strong typhoon hits Philippines

August 28th, 2011 10:13 am by Jim Gomez

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Typhoon Nanmadol began blowing toward Taiwan on Sunday after leaving at least 10 people dead and scuttling a visit by a U.S. Navy carrier group in the Philippines, officials said.

Taiwan issued sea and land warnings and planned to evacuate about 6,000 people in its eastern and southern regions as it braced for the typhoon. Troops and rescue equipment were deployed, Taiwan's Defense Ministry said.

With its enormous cloud band, the typhoon drenched the northern Philippines with rain for days before pummeling the area with fierce wind, setting off landslides and floods and toppling walls that left at least 10 people dead and six others missing. About 20 were injured by landslides and toppled trees, said Benito Ramos, who heads the Office of Civil Defense.

Strong winds knocked down a concrete wall which hit a small eatery in the capital's suburban Quezon City on Sunday, killing a man and injuring two others, police said.

In the northern mountain resort city of Baguio, a garbage dump's concrete wall collapsed and buried three shanties under tons of garbage Saturday, killing two children. Their grandmother remained missing, Ramos said.

Seven others perished in landslides or drowned, including a fisherman whose body was found floating Saturday off eastern Catanduanes province. A decision by many villagers to flee to safety before the typhoon struck and vigilance helped reduce the number of casualties, Ramos said.

In northern Benguet province, bus driver Reynaldo Carlos ordered his passengers to flee Saturday after seeing mud, debris and boulders surging down a mountainside toward the vehicle, which was stuck on a muddy road.

The bus, its engine still running, was swept down a 200-foot (60-meter) ravine after everyone escaped, officials said.

"I was trembling with fear after I realized how close we were to death," Carlos told The Associated Press by telephone.

About 20 landslides blocked roads in Benguet, a gold-mining region about 130 miles (210 kilometers) north of Manila. More than 57,000 villagers fled their homes there and in 10 other northern provinces at the height of the typhoon, officials said.

U.S. officials postponed a Manila visit by the U.S. Navy's John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group originally scheduled for this weekend because of the bad weather.

The U.S. Embassy said all tours of the aircraft carrier, as well as a reception on board, had been canceled.

Domestic airlines also canceled more than a dozen flights to areas affected by the typhoon in the northern and central Philippines.

Nanmadol had sustained wind of 121 miles (195 kilometers) per hour and gusts of 143 mph (230 kph) Friday, becoming the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines so far this year. It weakened after grazing northern Cagayan province Saturday. It blew by the northernmost Batanes islands with 75 mph (120 kph) winds Sunday and then began moving away from the country, Philippine government forecasters said.

Nanmadol was expected to hit Taiwan as early as Monday, Taiwan's central weather bureau said. It urged residents to prepare for strong winds and torrential rain, and warned there could be landslides in mountainous regions and flooding in low-lying areas.

On Sunday, TV footage showed parts of eastern and southern Taiwan drenched with rain. Strong winds blew a van across a road in the eastern Taiwanese county of Taitung.

Ferries connecting Taiwan's mainland to islets and some domestic flights were canceled. Train service in southern and eastern Taiwan was to be suspended, and two major roads in eastern and central Taiwan were to be closed starting late Sunday afternoon.

Two eastern Taiwanese counties said people did not have to go to school or work on Monday.

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Associated Press writers Oliver Teves in Manila and Debby Wu in Taipei contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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