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Typhoon death toll climbs to 36 in the Philippines

THE death toll from a typhoon that struck the Philippines last week has climbed to 36, the government said yesterday, adding it plans to include the storm in a study about the possible effects of climate change.

Typhoon Cha-Hom weakened into a low pressure area over the weekend after roaring across the country's mountainous north last Friday.

Glenn Rabonza, administrator of the government's Office of Civil Defense, said in a typhoon aftermath report that the storm killed 36 people, left 12 others missing and forced nearly 15,000 to flee. About 5,500 houses were destroyed and more than 16,700 others were damaged.

Most of the deaths were caused by landslides, drowning and flying debris, Rabonza said.

The hard-hit mountain province of Ifugao and parts of Pangasinan province, where many of the deaths and infrastructure damage occurred, were declared disaster zones to speed up the release of emergency funds, he said.

About 20 typhoons and tropical storms lash the Philippines each year, usually after the rainy season starts in June.

Although government disaster agencies repeatedly issued typhoon warnings, some may not have fully prepared for its deadly force because it struck early, regional disaster official Eugene Cabrera said.

"The typhoon struck too early, when there was still no sense of urgency," Cabrera said.

Chief government forecaster Nathaniel Cruz said he and other government scientists will include Cha-Hom and another tropical storm that hit earlier this month and left 27 people dead in an ongoing government study on how global warming can affect the Philippines.


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