4th typhoon kills 7 in Philippines

MANILA: The fourth typhoon to whip the Philippines in a month lashed the capital and nearby provinces Saturday, leaving fresh floods and new misery before blowing out of the country. At least seven people were killed and several were missing.

Typhoon Mirinae, with winds of 93 miles (150 kilometers) per hour and gusts of up to 115 mph (185 kph), slammed into Quezon province northeast of Manila around midnight Friday. It quickly swept westward out to sea south of the capital and weakened into a tropical storm Saturday afternoon.

"It is moving away toward the South China Sea," said chief government forecaster Nathaniel Cruz. "That part of our lives with (Mirinae) is over."

Mirinae appeared to be heading next toward Vietnam.

Philippine authorities evacuated more than 115,000 people in nine provinces east and south of Manila in the storm's path on main Luzon island, the National Disaster Coordinating Council reported.

Back-to-back storms in late September and early October killed more than 900 people, and a third storm then threatened the northern Philippines before veering toward Japan.

Initial reports Saturday from Mirinae indicated more flooding but relatively few deaths.

Police said six people, including a 12-year-old girl, drowned in a flash flood in Laguna province's Pagsanjan township, south of Manila. Four others were missing in floodwaters in other towns, regional police chief Perfecto Palad said.

A man drowned after being swept away by strong currents as he tried to cross a creek in Rizal province's Pililla township while carrying his 1-year-old child, who remains missing. A man and his son who were in a car on a bridge that collapsed in nearby Batangas province were also missing, said regional disaster officer Fred Bragas.

One river in Laguna overflowed, flooding most of lakeside Santa Cruz town and sending residents clambering onto roofs, said Mayor Ariel Magcalas.

"We cannot move, this is no joke," Magcalas said. "The water is high. We need help," he said in a public address via Radio DZBB.

The muddy floodwater receded as rains eased, but was still chest-high in some communities.

In Manila, residents hunkered down in their homes overnight as rains beat down on dark, deserted streets. Mirinae passed south of the sprawling city of 12 million.

Mirinae tracked the same route as Tropical Storm Ketsana, which in late September dumped the heaviest rains in 40 years in and around Manila. A week later, Typhoon Parma triggered massive landslides in Luzon's mountain region.

Nearly 95,000 people who fled during those two earlier storms were still housed in temporary shelters when Mirinae struck, the national disaster agency said.

Flights at Manila's international airport were canceled and about 8,000 ferry passengers were stranded as the coast guard grounded all vessels.

Manila electric power distributor Meralco said the high winds had forced outages in many areas around the capital, but electricity was restored in most areas by Saturday afternoon.

In Rizal province's Taytay township, about 400 shanties — home to about 2,000 people who had been forced to flee their lakeside homes during Ketsana — were destroyed by strong winds, Mayor Joric Gacula said.

In the coastal town of Ternate in Cavite province, where the typhoon exited, a tornado destroyed 25 houses and injured one resident, Bragas said.

Ahead of the typhoon, millions of Filipinos had boarded buses heading to home provinces for this weekend's All Saints Day, when people visit cemeteries to pay respects to dead relatives in this devoutly Roman Catholic nation.

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro expressed fear that floods and traffic congestion may trap visitors at graveyards, where people traditionally spend a day or even a night, but few heeded his call to scrap this year's commemorations.

In some provinces, floodwaters from Ketsana and Parma raged through cemeteries, breaking up tombs and sweeping away caskets and bodies.