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At least 67 dead as Typhoon Conson calms in China

An elderly Filipino makes repairs to his shanty home after it was damaged by Typhoon Conson along a brake water in Manila bay on July 15, 2010. Troops scoured jagged coastlines on the Philippines' eastern seaboard in search of dozens of fishermen who went missing after a ferocious typhoon battered the country, killing 23 people. Photo courtesy AFP.

Philippine typhoon death toll rises to 53
Manila (AFP) July 17, 2010 - The death toll from a typhoon that hit the Philippines rose sharply to 53 Saturday, officials said, warning the number of dead could go up further with dozens of others missing days after the disaster. In some rare good news, three fishermen were plucked by passing colleagues from waters off the Bicol region, after Typhoon Conson destroyed their boat on Tuesday, an army statement quoted survivor Victor Bordeos as saying. "Our boat capsized and (was) torn in half during the height of the storm," Bordeos said.

Eight other members of the crew are among 43 people still missing in the typhoon-prone waters southeast of Manila, regional army spokesman Major Harold Cabunoc said. Air force helicopters and navy aircraft are combing the calming seas to find the missing, he added. Conson struck the main island of Luzon including the capital Manila with surprising ferocity overnight Tuesday after state weather forecasters incorrectly predicted that the typhoon would hit further north. The first typhoon to batter the country this year destroyed thousands of homes, sank or damaged 62 boats, uprooted trees that crushed people to death, snapped power lines and disrupted aviation.

It took utility firms more than two days to restore electricity to a near-paralysed capital. The government's National Disaster Coordinating Council on Saturday raised the death toll to 53 from 39 as the coast guard and other rescuers found more bodies at sea at the mouth of Manila Bay and off Bicol. It put the number of overall missing at 85. By Saturday morning the coast guard said it was still struggling to contain two oil spills caused by the wrecked watercraft, one of which severed an underwater oil pipe of a local refiner at the mouth of Manila Bay. The Philippines is in the so-called typhoon belt of the Pacific. Up to 20 typhoons sweep through the country each year, killing hundreds of people.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) July 17, 2010
Typhoon Conson weakened to a tropical storm and headed for Vietnam Saturday after brushing the southeastern Chinese island of Hainan and pounding the Philippines, leaving at least 67 dead.

Philippine authorities warned the toll could rise further with dozens missing days after Conson struck the main Luzon island, including the capital Manila, on Tuesday with a ferocity that caught weather forecasters by surprise.

The typhoon destroyed thousands of homes, sank or damaged dozens of boats, uprooted trees that crushed people to death and snapped power lines.

In China the storm killed at least two people, tore down trees and ripped up electricity pylons when it hit Hainan Friday evening, local officials said.

Authorities on the popular tourist island evacuated around 40,000 people from the most vulnerable areas before the storm barrelled inland.

Two men, a security guard and a motorcyclist, died after being struck by advertising hoardings unhinged by strong winds, an official from the local typhoon warning centre said.

Television images showed driving rain and powerful winds rocking the island, while residents also reported power outages.

Several Vietnamese ships in the South China Sea had been wrecked, the state Xinhua news agency said.

The typhoon was later downgraded to a tropical storm as it headed towards northern Vietnam, according to China's national weather centre.

The China Meteorological Administration said the winds had slowed to around 20 kilometres (12 miles) per hour, but that coastal areas of eastern China could still expect heavy rain over the next 24 hours.

Provincial flood control authorities have warned local governments to be vigilant for floods, landslides and dike bursts, Xinhua said. China has been hit by deadly landslides and rainstorms in recent weeks.

Earlier Conson became the first major storm to hit the Philippines this year and the archipelago nation bore the brunt of its fury, with the death toll there rising sharply to 65 Saturday.

Philippine air force helicopters and navy aircraft were still combing the seas southeast of Manila for around 43 missing fishermen and other sailors.

Three fishermen were plucked by passing colleagues from waters off the Bicol region, after Conson destroyed their boat on Tuesday, an army statement quoted survivor Victor Bordeos as saying.

"Our boat capsized and (was) torn in half during the height of the storm," Bordeos said.

The government's National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) on Saturday raised the death toll to 65 from 39 as the coast guard and other rescuers found more bodies at sea at the mouth of Manila Bay and off Bicol.

It put the number of overall missing at 87.

By Saturday morning the coast guard said it was still struggling to contain two oil spills caused by wrecked watercraft, one of which severed an underwater oil pipe of a local refiner at the mouth of Manila Bay.

It had earlier taken utility firms more than two days to restore electricity to the near-paralysed capital Manila.

Meanwhile the NDCC on Saturday alerted Luzon residents of a weather front off the island's east coast that it said could develop into a stronger storm.

The Philippines is in the so-called typhoon belt of the Pacific. Up to 20 typhoons sweep through the country each year, killing hundreds of people.

earlier related report
Power restored in Philippine capital after typhoon rampage
Manila (AFP) July 16, 2010 - Power was finally restored throughout the Philippine capital on Friday, more than two days after a typhoon hit the country with unexpected ferocity, killing at least 39 people.

However the search continued for up to 47 people, most of them fishermen, still missing in the wake of Typhoon Conson, which slammed into the archipelago late Tuesday and then cut through the main island of Luzon on Wednesday.

The storm, packing wind gusts of 120 kilometres (74 miles) an hour, knocked out electrical services for the 12 million residents of metro Manila, bringing the country's capital and economic centre to a near standstill.

Manila and surrounding areas were still forced to endure rotating blackouts on Thursday, but the Manila Electric Co (Meralco) said Friday that power was back to all parts of the city.

"All mainline circuits have been restored," said Meralco spokeswoman Dina Lomotan.

Business groups welcomed the end to the power outages, which had cost the country's economy hundreds of millions of dollars.

"The businessmen are all very glad that things are being acted upon very quickly and that the (outages) did not last too many days," said Jose Alejandro, head of the energy committee of the Philippine chamber of commerce.

Lengthy power interruptions would have had a serious impact as exporters were already working to fill orders for the Christmas season, he told AFP.

Alejandro said businesses were caught unprepared after the government weather station predicted the storm would largely miss Manila and hit the northern provinces instead.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council said in its latest bulletin on Friday morning that 38 people had been confirmed dead, with 47 missing.

The coast goard reported a few hours later that another floating body had been retrieved, bringing the death toll to 39.

Coast guard personnel said they could not identify the body, found in the waters northwest of Manila, and so could not tell whether it was one of the 47 listed as missing. Vessels are still at sea, scouring the waters for the missing.

The Philippines is in the so-called typhoon belt of the Pacific. Up to 20 typhoons sweep through the country each year, killing hundreds of people.




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SHAKE AND BLOW
Hunt for Philippine fishermen after killer typhoon
Manila (AFP) July 15, 2010
Troops scoured the Philippine coast Thursday for over two dozen fishermen who went missing after a typhoon battered the country, killing at least 30 people and ravaging the national power grid. Using rubber boats and small fishing vessels, hundreds of soldiers raced against time to look for the 29 fishermen amid fears they could succumb to hypothermia if exposed at sea, military spokesman Ma ... read more

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