From: Associated Press
Published September 28, 2006 12:00 AM

Typhoon Xangsane Batters Philippines, Flooding Towns, Closing Schools and Offices

MANILA, Philippines — Typhoon Xangsane unleashed fierce winds and dumped heavy rains across the northern and central Philippines on Thursday, cutting off roads and phone lines as authorites shut down schools, ferries and the country's financial markets.

The Category 4 typhoon, packing maximum winds of 230 kilometers (143 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 280 kph (175 mph), made landfall overnight in the central Bicol region and was forecast to pass through the capital, Manila, the U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center reported.

The Philippine weather bureau gave a lower wind speed of 130 kph (81 mph) and gusts of 160 kph (100 mph). It wasn't immediately clear why the discrepancy existed.

More than 4,000 ferry passengers were stranded after the coast guard banned vessels from leaving ports, including in Manila.

The coastal province of Albay, about 320 kilometers (200 miles) southeast of Manila, felt the brunt of the typhoon. A regional highway was impassable because of uprooted trees, power cuts were reported in six provinces and a landslide cut off the road between Antique and Iloilo provinces on central Panay island, the Office of Civil Defense reported.

Half of the villages in one town in Antique province were under 1.5 meters (five feet) of water after the Dalanas River overflowed, the civil defense said.

Rescuers in other provinces were unable to respond to calls for help because of heavy rains and blocked roads, Bicol civil defense chief Arnel Capili told Radio DZRH.

Authorities also closed the financial markets in Manila on Thursday.

Source: Associated Press

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