'Santi' death toll up 13, millions without power

'Santi' death toll up 13, millions without power

MANILA - 13 people were killed and more than two million are without electricity as typhoon "Santi" (international codename: Nari) pummelled Luzon.

Santi tore into the country's northeast coast around midnight (1600 GMT Friday), toppling trees and pylons as it cut a westward swathe through the farming regions of the main island of Luzon, officials said.

"While there were relatively few casualties, a lot of areas are still flooded," said Eduardo del Rosario, head of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

In a press conference earlier on Saturday, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council spokesman Major Rey Balido said four were reported missing: Three fishermen from Catanduanes and one from Dingalan in Aurora.

Balido said 8,414 houses were damaged, while the central Luzon civil defence office said the typhoon blacked out 37 towns and cities, populated by 2.1 million people.

Witnesses in the coastal town of Baler, near where Santi made landfall, said many large trees had been felled and clean-up crews with chainsaws were clearing roads.

Military and police rescuers trucked residents out of flooded villages as the weather improved after the typhoon's 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour winds swept out to the South China Sea later Saturday morning.

Government clerk Glenn Diwa, 34, said she and her husband spent a sleepless night as the typhoon roared through the town of Capas, 90 kilometers (55 miles) north of Manila, shortly before midnight.

"The wind was very strong and there was a whistling sound. After a while we heard torn roofing sheets clattering across the yard," she told Agence France-Presse.

As Santi dumped rain inland, a wall of mud fell on a police barracks near the town of Magalang, killing an officer awaiting deployment to rescue typhoon victims, Balido said.

Elsewhere in central Luzon, an elderly woman and four minors were crushed to death when trees crashed onto two houses and a vehicle, while the wall of a school collapsed and crushed an old man to death.

Two children and an elderly person drowned in a flooded village, while the body of a fisherman who had gone to sleep in his boat on shore the previous night was recovered at sea, Balido added.

Another man was electrocuted by a loose power line while yet another died of a heart attack in an incident that disaster officials also blamed on Santi.

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