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3 dead, 6 missing as storm slams Philippines

  • A resident paddles his boat along submerged houses after tropical storm Saola dumps rain in Quezon City, Metro Manila July 30, 2012.REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo.

MANILA, Philippines : A tropical storm roughed up seas and dumped torrents of monsoon rain as it swept past the Philippines, leaving at least three people dead, knocking out power and forcing many offices and schools to close Monday.

The wild weather whipped up by Tropical Storm Saola as it roared off the country's northeast was compounded a separate low-pressure area that lashed the capital overnight with tornado-like winds and a powerful thunderstorm. Many parts of Manila were without power early Monday and low-lying areas were flooded.

The low-pressure had dissipated by midday and Saola, which was packing winds of 105 kilometers (65 miles) per hour and gusts of 135 kph (84 mph), was expected to blow out of the country toward Taiwan on Thursday, according to Manila's weather bureau.

Benito Ramos of the Office of Civil Defense said three people had died in the storm and another six were missing. One of the men who died had an asthma attack while he and other passengers were being rescued from an inter-island ferry that ran aground in rough seas late Sunday off central Romblon province.

Separately, two barges that drifted off of a Manila pier smashed into a row of wooden shanties on stilts in the city's Tondo slum community, destroying dozens of huts but causing no injuries.

Coast guard officer Noli Casiano said residents fled from the wind and waves before the empty barges rammed their homes.

"We fled to safety as the waves suddenly grew strong and the wind howled," Ivy Rosario, a mother of two, told The Associated Press.

"When we came back, everything was destroyed," said Rosario, pointing to the debris-littered waters near where her home once stood. Some villagers jumped into the water to try to salvage floating belongings.

Saola is the seventh of 20 storms and typhoons expected to hit the Philippines this year. Saola is the name of a rare mammal found in Vietnam and Laos.

 
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