One dead as typhoon skirts Philippines

MANILA - One person died in the Philippines as typhoon Songda brought floods and triggered landslides that cut off roads across the country, rescuers said Friday.

The eye of the storm passed to the north of the Philippines early Friday, sparing the country a direct hit, the government's National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in a statement.

A 70-year-old man drowned on the eastern island of Catanduanes while more than 40 houses were damaged in the southern island of Mindanao, it added.

More than 262,000 people who had sought refuge at government-run shelters near Catanduanes were returning to their homes after the typhoon brushed past the region on Thursday, it said.

The state weather service said the sparsely populated Batanes island group, near the country's northern sea border with Taiwan, remained at risk from the typhoon's peak winds of 195 kilometres an hour.

An average of 20 storms and typhoons, some of them deadly, hit the Philippines every year. Tropical storm Aere left 31 people dead after cutting across Luzon island earlier in May.