Philippines flies aid to thousands of marooned as typhoon toll rises

MANILA - Philippine army helicopters on Monday airlifted food, water and relief supplies to thousands of families who fled their homes during a typhoon as more bodies were pulled out from under landslides, disaster officials said.

More than 30,000 people were evacuated in the northern Philippines due to fears of flooding and landslides as more nearly 1,000 homes were destroyed by Typhoon Goni, which has since lost some of its strength as it barrels northeast towards southern Japan.

Disaster officials said about 20 people had been killed, most of them in landslides. "As we speak, there are now helicopters bringing food packs to more than 1,000 families isolated by a collapsed bridge in Ilocos Sur," Social Welfare secretary Dinky Soliman said, referring to a coastal northwestern province.

More than 5,000 people were marooned in about eight villages in Ilocos Sur. Army trucks were moving north after soldiers cleared major roads of uprooted trees and toppled power lines.

Four bodies were pulled from under tonnes of mud in the Cordillera mountain region where more than a dozen people were unaccounted for, Nestor Fongwan, governor of Benguet province, said.

Two children drowned when their house was swept by a swollen river near the former U.S. naval base in Subic.

Goni is one of two cyclones hovering in the northwest Pacific. Super Typhoon Atsani had also been heading towards Japan, but has since weakened and on Monday was heading to the northeast out to sea.

An average of 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year. In November 2013, the strongest-ever typhoon to make landfall, Haiyan, struck the central Philippines, killing more than 6,300 people.

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