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Storm roars across Philippines, 5 dead

A tropical storm blew across the central Philippines today, leaving at least five people dead, including four fishermen whose motorboat was destroyed by a tornado, officials said.

The storm, packing sustained winds of 46 miles (75 kilometers) per hour, first struck eastern Samar province yesterday and by today was roaring westward over the central Philippines toward the South China Sea. Nearly 3,500 people were stranded aboard more than 560 ferries and motor boats, which were ordered to stay docked for safety, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said.

In mountainous Quezon province, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) southeast of Manila, a tornado struck a fishing boat that had taken cover in a cove, killing four fishermen and injuring two others late yesterday.

All six were sleeping on the boat near Perez township when the tornado hit, Mayor Pepito Reyes said.

The tornado also ripped off the roofs of two houses before dissipating near a forested mountain, he said.

"The twister lifted the boat and hurled it back into the waters, pinning and drowning the fishermen," Reyes told The Associated Press by telephone.

A man drowned on central Bantayan island yesterday. Seven people went missing in floodwaters in Samar and nearby regions, disaster-response officials said.

The storm, with winds gusting up to 56 miles (90 kilometers) per hour, destroyed at least 20 houses in Samar. It was expected to pass about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of the densely populated capital, Manila, late Wednesday before moving into the South China Sea on Thursday, forecasters said.

Classes were suspended as the storm flooded and knocked out power in several villages in central provinces and in Manila, officials said.

The storm, internationally named Nangka, is the sixth to hit the Philippines this year. About 20 typhoons and storms lash the archipelago annually.


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