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Typhoon leaves 2 dead, strands thousands in Philippines

A powerful typhoon slammed into the northeastern Philippines on Sunday, leaving at least two people dead, knocking out power and isolating villages amid floods and toppled trees.

Typhoon Sarika, locally known as Karen, blew into Aurora province early Sunday and was barreling fast through heavily-populated agricultural provinces with sustained winds of 130 kilometers (80 miles) per hour and gusts of 220 kph (136 mph), officials said.

Mayor Nelianto Bihasa of Baler, a popular surfing town in Aurora, said howling wind ripped tin roofs off many houses and knocked down trees and electric posts, causing power outages and blocking access roads to some villages.

Warning to coastal villagers

Coastal villagers were warned early to move to safer areas and there have been no immediate reports of casualties other than two injured residents, he said.

In eastern Catanduanes province, a man drowned after being swept by strong river currents and a farmer died after his head hit the ground in fierce wind, provincial safety officer Gerry Beo said. Three fishermen were reported missing, he said.

A month’s rain in one day

A month’s worth of rain poured Friday as the typhoon approached from the Pacific, swelling rivers and creeks and flooding low—lying farming villages, Mr. Beo said, adding that most towns in the island province of about 260,000 people have no electricity.

In Bataan province, 50 mountaineers were forced to descend from Mount Tarak in stormy weather, but 36 others remained stranded in the uplands, according to police and firefighters who were trying to rescue them.

Nearly 200 domestic and international flights have been canceled and thousands of passengers stranded in seaports after inter-island ferries were ordered not to venture out in rough seas.

Its an annual phenomenon

About 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, adding to the many burdens in a country that’s also threatened by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The latest typhoon, Sarika, was named after a singing bird in Cambodia.

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