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Tropical storm kills 6 in central Philippines

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

The storm, packing sustained winds of 75 kilometers per hour, first struck eastern Samar province on Tuesday and by yesterday was roaring westward over the central Philippines toward the South China Sea. About 4,700 people were stranded aboard hundreds of ferries and motorboats, which were ordered to stay docked for safety, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said.

More than 60 domestic flights were canceled, airline officials said.

In mountainous Quezon province, about 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 on Tuesday.

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 said.

A man drowned on central Bantayan island on Tuesday. Seven people, including five fishermen, disappeared in floodwaters and rough seas in Samar and nearby regions, officials said.

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro warned villagers living in flood and landslide-prone areas to be vigilant and start moving to shelters if they feel threatened.

The storm destroyed at least 70 houses in Samar and in nearby Romblon province, including 20 homes that were swept away by a tornado. It was expected to pass about 80 kilometers southwest of the densely populated capital, Manila, late last night before moving into the South China Sea today, forecasters said.

Army trucks and helicopters were on standby with emergency food and medicine packages in key cities.

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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