Philippines typhoon death toll hits 8

July 31, 2012 at 2:53 PM
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MANILA, Philippines, July 31 (UPI) -- As Typhoon Saola edged away from the northern Philippines Tuesday, the island of Luzon reeled from the brutal storm and a climbing death toll, officials said.

Luzon, the country's largest island and home to the capital Manila, and parts of the island of Visayas, have taken the brunt of the storm, locally called Gener, which intensified to typhoon status Monday.

The government's National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Tuesday raised the number of people confirmed killed in the storm to eight, including a 10-year-old boy, as more rains and strong winds lashed the region, the Philippine Star reported.

The disaster relief agency said most of the victims had drowned.

The report said about 8,300 families had been affected in 14 provinces in Luzon, parts of Visayas and Mindanao.

Gener's maximum sustained winds were still clocked at 75 mph and its remnants were expected to stay in the country until Friday before heading to Taiwan, forecasters said.

Storm warnings remained in effect over extensive areas including Cagayan province, and the Batanes, Calayan and Babuyan groups of islands.

Forecasters said metropolitan Manila and other parts of Luzon, including Calabarzon and Mimaropa, were expected to receive heavy rains throughout the day and flash flood and landslide warnings were issued in those areas.

The Manila Times said flooding brought on by Gener and two other weather systems was posing problems in large areas of Luzon and parts of the Visayas. Several roads were damaged, stranding hundreds of people.

Several government offices and schools remained closed Monday.

Gulf News reported eight bridges throughout the Philippines were blocked off Tuesday.

One forecaster said Gener could bring nearly an inch of rain per hour over a 430-mile diameter area.

At the height of the storm Monday, a barge smashed into the home of several fishermen in a settlers' area near Manila, the Times said.

Elsewhere, the Philippine coast guard said at least four vessels ran aground due to the bad weather.

The Manila International Airport Authority said some of the incoming flights had to be diverted.

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