Typhoon batters Philippines, nearly 60 killed

MANILA (Reuters) – Nearly 60 people were killed,  Manila was blacked out and airline flights were suspended as a  powerful typhoon battered the main Philippines island of Luzon  yesterday, disaster officials said.

Television showed houses swept away by swollen rivers,  people on rooftops waving for help and throngs stranded along  Manila’s submerged main thoroughfares as the storm packing winds  of 100 kph (60 mph) dumped 341 mm (13.5 inches) of rain in six  hours.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appealed for donations of  clothes, blankets, food and water as hundreds of families,  perched on rooftops or were trapped in submerged areas, waiting  for rescue.

“I am calling on our countrymen, especially residents of  metro Manila and other provinces in the path of the typhoon, to  please stay calm, follow the instructions of local officials and  civil defence authorities,” Arroyo said in a televised message.

At least 47 people were killed, mostly by drowning, in Rizal  province, east of Manila, radio reports quoted the local  governor as saying.

Eleven more people were killed by collapsing walls and  rising floodwaters in the capital area, disaster officials said.

Authorities shut down operations at international and  domestic airports, stranding thousands of passengers. An  advisory said operations would not resume until today.

Disaster officials declared a “state of calamity” for the  capital region and 25 other areas on the main island of Luzon,  in order to speed up rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts.

Businesses and commercial shops closed early and local  hotels were packed by weary commuters.

The typhoon was moving west-northwest and was expected to  head towards the South China Sea by tonight or tomorrow  morning, chief weather forecaster Nathaniel Cruz told a local  radio station.

He said the typhoon brought the heaviest rainfall in the  country since 1967 after its weather station collected 341 mm of  rainfall in six hours on Saturday.

An average of about 20 typhoons strike the Southeast Asian  nation every year.

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