Typhoon kills 16 in northern Philippines

MANILA, Philippines At least 16 people died when Parma hit the main island of Luzon on Saturday, though the capital, Manila - still awash in floodwaters from a storm barely a week earlier - was spared a new disaster.

In Benguet province, a family of five, including a 1-year-old boy, died when their home was buried in a landslide, local police Senior Superintendent Loreto Espineli told The Associated Press. Seven people, including another family of five, were buried in a nearby village, he said.

Four also died in other provinces, most of them drowning after being swept away by floodwaters, officials said.

Parma headed northwest into the South China Sea after passing over the Philippines, but its movement slowed to about 6 miles per hour (10 kilometers per hour) and hooked back toward the country as it began to interact with Typhoon Melor, a storm over the north Pacific Ocean that is pushing west, said chief government forecaster Nathaniel Cruz.

It was not expected to hit the Philippine coast again, but was likely to hover in an area around 60 miles (100 kilometers) away and could cause heavy rain for the next three days, Cruz said.

The storm was close enough to Taiwan to cause heavy rain on the island, where troops were evacuating some villages and loading sandbags in preparation for possible flooding.

In southern Taiwan, roads were clogged with military trucks and cars taking villagers away from their flood- and mudslide-prone mountain homes.

Television stations showed soldiers making sandbags, using mud that piled up at riverbeds during a deadly typhoon last month. The military said armored personnel carriers were made ready for rescuing villagers in the event of massive flooding.

The Central Weather Bureau said Parma would likely miss the island but heavy rains could still cause major problems.

Parma hit the Philippines just eight days after an earlier storm left Manila awash in the worst flooding in four decades, killing almost 300 people. Saturday's storm dropped more rain on the capital that slowed the cleanup and made conditions more miserable.

"I hope it won't return," said National Disaster Coordinating Council Chief Gilbert Teodoro, after flying over the area stricken by Parma in a helicopter Sunday. "We still need to do pre-emptive evacuations in that case, until there is no more danger."

He said he could see knee- and waist-high flooding in many areas.

Tens of thousands of Filipinos fled to higher ground before Parma hit, packing winds of 108 miles per hour (175 kilometers per hour) and driving rain. Towns in a dozen provinces were battered, landslides cut bridges and downpours swelled rivers, officials said.

About 14 farming villages at the mouth of the Cagayan River were flooded when it overflowed, forcing some residents to clamber onto their roofs, Mayor Ismael Tumaru of nearby Aparri town told AP by mobile phone.

Philippine navy, coast guard and police rescuers plucked many villagers to safety, he said. Others were huddled in buildings on higher ground, stranded by floodwaters but safe for the moment, he said.

"We're like at sea," Tumaru said as he inspected an inundated village by boat. "This used to be a rice field with roads and power posts. Now, it's just water everywhere."

Power, phone lines and internet links were down across the north, making it difficult to get reports about the extent of damage, said Armand Araneta, an official for several northern provinces.

"We really got the brunt of the wind," he said by phone from Tuguegarao city, capital of Cagayan province. "Many trees fell here. The winds knocked down cables, telephone lines - even our windows got shattered by the strong winds."

On Sept. 26, Tropical Storm Ketsana killed at least 288 people and damaged the homes of 3 million in the Philippines before striking other Southeast Asian nations, killing 162 in Vietnam, 18 in Cambodia and at least 16 in Laos.

Parma came during a week of destruction in the Asia-Pacific region that included Ketsana, an earthquake in Indonesia and a tsunami in the Samoan islands.

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