26 killed, 38 missing as typhoon hits Philippines

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MANILA (AP) — 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.

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.

In the Philippines, 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.

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

“This is unacceptable,” Mr. 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.

Several people were killed by falling debris or electrocuted. 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.

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