Impassable roads hamper rescue effort
By Martin Petty and Manuel Mogato
MANILA, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Landslides killed four people and trapped at least 31 others on Tuesday in a mountainous region of the Philippines, officials said, as Typhoon Yutu barrelled across the country with strong winds and rains.
Yutu, the 18th typhoon to hit the Philippines this year, swept across the main island of Luzon with wind speeds of 140 km per hour (87 miles per hour) and gusts of up to 230 kph (142 mph), before heading west over the South China Sea, the state weather agency said.
Roads blocked by collapsed earth prevented rescue teams from reaching the 31 people trapped in a landslide late in the afternoon that engulfed a local government building in the country's Mountain province, local authorities said.
Another landslide in neighbouring Ifugao province killed a 48-year-old man and three children aged between 8 and 11, according to a police report.
The typhoon, named Rosita by Philippine authorities, comes just six weeks after super typhoon Mangkhut dumped massive rains on Luzon, triggering dozens of landslides that killed more than 70 people in the mountainous Cordillera region.
At first light helicopters would fly rescue teams and search dogs to the 31 people trapped, who included public highways contractors, security guards and people sheltering from the storm, said Ruben Carandang, head of civil defence in the Cordilleras.
Footage from Yutu's path captured by local television showed winds bending trees and signs, sheets of rain lashing down and loose materials flying through the air.
Local television reported one person was electrocuted and killed and another missing in Isabela, the province where Yutu made landfall.
Thousands of people in the typhoon's path were evacuated before the storm hit from hilly, coastal and river areas on Monday after warnings were issued for landslides and waves of up to 3 metres (9.8 feet).
Yutu has weakened substantially since the night of Oct. 24, when as a super typhoon packing winds of 270 kph (168 mph), it made a direct hit on Saipan and Tinian, two islands of the Northern Marianas, an American territory about 9,000 km (5,590 miles) west of the U.S. mainland.
It was the strongest storm to hit the archipelago in 50 years and killed a woman and injured more than 130 people. It tore off the roofs of buildings, flipped vehicles and damaged generators, water pipes and downed hundreds of electricity poles.
By late Tuesday, Yutu had weakened to a category 2 storm, with maximum winds of 110 kph (68 mph) and gusts of 135 kph (84 mph), the state weather agency PAGASA said. (Additional reporting by Peter Blaza Editing by Frances Kerry)
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