Manila, July 25, 2003 (Star) Typhoon "Harurot" killed 21 people and destroyed about P1.09 billion worth of crops in the Philippines this week, officials said yesterday.

The typhoon, which blew out of the country on Wednesday, left 10 people dead in the northern and central Philippines and 11 people dead in Mindanao, according to a tally from civilian disaster officials.

Most of the dead were swept away by flash floods or crushed by landslides and fallen trees when Harurot (international name "Imbudo"), the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines in five years, slashed through the country from Sunday to Monday.

The typhoon also caused damage worth P258.93 million to infrastructure and P51.5 million to livestock, the Office of Civil Defense at Camp Aguinaldo said in a statement.

President Arroyo, who flew to Ilagan, Isabela yesterday, authorized the release of P35 million for the rehabilitation of typhoon-ravaged Cagayan Valley, the hardest-hit by Harurot.

The President made an aerial inspection of the region to personally see for herself the extent of the damage caused by the strongest typhoon to hit the country in five years.

More than 11,400 people remained in government evacuation centers yesterday, with flooding reported in parts of some 20 towns in the Cagayan Valley, the statement said.

Power supply was still out in large areas of the region.

The government has sent teams out to clear roads of debris and fallen trees while repairing damaged bridges, it said.

The storm is now heading to southern China after brushing past Hong Kong.

About 20 storms hit the Philippines every year, causing hundreds of deaths and severely affecting agriculture.

In Central Luzon, two people were reported to have drowned and four others missing in the aftermath of Harurot.

Jess Ragoldan of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council said the dead were Ricardo Ponciano and Apolonia Pacua, both of Dipaculao, Aurora Province.

Missing were Nabeel Lestino, 30, of Villa Floresta in San Jose City Nueva Ecija; Eduardo Nepomuceno and Dominador Aragones, both of San Roque in La Paz, Tarlac, and Rodrigo Angara of Pelag in Dinalungan, Aurora, he added.

Ragoldan said the Gabaldon-Linlingan bridge in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija and the Sta. Rosa-Tarlac bridge at the boundary of Tarlac and Nueva Ecija remained closed to all types of vehicles.

Sixty-nine barangays in nine towns in Nueva Ecija were still underwater, with depths ranging from two to six feet, he added.

Ragoldan said about 300 families have already been moved to various evacuation centers in the town of Guimba, also in Nueva Ecija.

In Tarlac, 12 barangays in Camiling remained flooded, six in Moncada, 15 in San Miguel, three in Anao, and 15 in La Paz, he added.

In Pangasinan, three people, including a two-year-old boy drowned in flood waters.

The Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council identified the fatalities as Arnold Mateo, 16, of Barangay Ataynan, Bayombong; Piolo Diaz, 2, of Poblacion Sur, Bayombong, and Sharon Fuerte, 19, a mental retardate of Zamora St., Mangataram.

Reported missing was Joey Canto, 22, of Barangay Hacienda, Bugallon.

At least 299 barangays in 24 towns and cities in Pangasinan were reported to have gone underwater.

The Bacbac-Quiray bridge in the Aguilar-San Carlos City Road was reported to have collapsed, while the Cabulcan bridge in Umingan was damaged. — AFP, Ding Cervantes, Cesar Ramirez

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved