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SHAKE AND BLOW
Philippine typhoon death toll rises to 37
by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) Aug 3, 2012


Tropical storm Ernesto nears Barbados
Miami (AFP) Aug 3, 2012 - Tropical storm Ernesto, the fifth of the Atlantic hurricane season, threatened Barbados and the Windward Islands Friday as it advanced across the Atlantic with winds of 85 kilometers per hour.

At 0300 GMT, the storm's center was 130 kilometers (80 miles) east of Barbados and 295 kilometers (185 miles) east of St Lucia, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

"The center of Ernesto should pass near Barbados later tonight, be near the northern Windward Islands by early Friday and emerge over the eastern Caribbean sea by Friday afternoon," the center said.

It said tropical storm warnings were up in Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, St Lucia, Martinique and Guadeloupe.

Ernesto formed on Thursday from a tropical depression, becoming the fifth tropical storm of the current hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.

The storm was expected to strengthen somewhat over the next two days, the center said.

US weather forecasters have said they expect this to be a relatively mild hurricane season, with nine to 15 topical storms and between four and eight hurricanes.

The death toll in the Philippines from Typhoon Saola has risen to 37 and is expected to go even higher as new rains worsened flooding, the government said on Friday.

Monsoon rains continued to batter the northern and central parts of the Philippines with some towns remaining flooded for the sixth day in a row, despite the typhoon having moved away from the archipelago.

Earlier reports said 23 had been killed but civil defence chief Benito Ramos said more deaths had been reported, including 11 youths who drowned in four different parts of the country on Thursday.

"They were probably enjoying the big waves, riding on them. They did not expect a storm surge," he told AFP.

The death toll is likely to go even higher, he added, citing four more swimmers who went missing in the north.

The Ramos-led National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said that although Saola had passed, it was still enhancing the monsoon rains and warned of continued possible flash floods and landslides.

In the coastal districts near Manila, knee-high floods persisted Friday, said Jeremy de Ocampo of the capital's flood control office.

"They are right beside Manila Bay and when high tide comes, they are flooded," he told AFP.

Although Saola did not hit the Philippines directly, it caused heavy rains and rough waters in a wide swath of the country, flooding parts of Manila and surrounding areas.

Philippine mine shut as storms cause spill
Manila (AFP) Aug 3, 2012 - A Philippine gold mining firm said Friday waste had leaked from one of its mines due to heavy rains, forcing the government to shut down production.

Chief mining regulator Leo Jasareno said the government was assessing the potential hazards posed by the tailings spill at the Padcal mine, though Philex Mining, the country's top gold mining firm, denied the discharge was toxic.

"We have issued a suspension order on the mine," Jasareno told AFP by telephone as he drove to the mine, located near the northern mountain resort of Baguio. There were no reported casualties.

"Philex is exerting its maximum effort to address the accidental discharge, and has mobilised the requisite resources in this regard," the company said in a statement.

Philex vice president for corporate affairs Mike Toledo said bad weather was hampering company efforts to assess the extent of the damage and said it had no timetable for resuming operations.

"I think we'll still be able to reach our (production) targets," Toledo told AFP when asked if the shutdown would affect the company's profitability.

The listed company's shares plunged 6.71 percent to 20.15 pesos (48 US cents) in morning trading Friday as it disclosed the suspension of mine operations. Padcal is Philex's only producing gold mine.

Typhoon Saola induced widespread flooding across the northern Philippines this week that claimed at least 37 lives according to the government's updated toll.

The accident comes amid an intense public debate in the Philippines on the mining industry.

The Philippines is believed to have some of the biggest mineral reserves in the world -- the government estimates the country has at least $840 billion in gold, copper, nickel, chromite, manganese, silver and iron ore deposits.

However, the minerals have been largely untapped, partly because of a strong anti-mining movement led by the influential Catholic Church, while poor infrastructure and security concerns have also kept investors away.

Last month President Benigno Aquino signed an executive order imposing more restrictions to protect the environment and local communities while seeking to increase royalties from mining firms.

As the government prepared a bill seeking to raise government revenues from the country's extensive mineral wealth, Aquino said no new mining permits would be approved until parliament passed a law giving the state a greater share.

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SHAKE AND BLOW
Typhoon Saola makes landfall in Taiwan
Ilan, Taiwan (AFP) Aug 2, 2012
Typhoon Saola reached Taiwan early Thursday, causing nearly the entire island to close down and bringing torrential rains that could linger until next week, officials said. The slow-moving typhoon, which caused the deaths of at least 14 in the Philippines, made landfall near the eastern coast city of Hualien at 3:20 am (1920 GMT Wednesday), according to the Central Weather Bureau. As man ... read more


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