At Least 10 Killed in Powerful Typhoon in the Philippines

Typhoon Mitag slammed into the northeastern Philippines after killing at least 10 people elsewhere in the country, while another deadly storm that had blown away days earlier headed back Monday, complicating emergency preparations.

A Philippine air force jet with two pilots also went missing in the foul weather while searching for 26 Filipino crewmen whose fishing boat sank last week near the Spratly islands in the South China Sea, the air force said.

Two villagers were also reported missing when raging river currents swept away their house in the northern mountain province of Apayao, officials said.

Most of the typhoon fatalities occurred over the weekend in the eastern provinces of Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte, before Mitag changed course and roared into the coastal town of Palanan, further north in Isabela province.

Mitag had weakened gradually, but its maximum sustained winds were still dangerous at 120 kph (74 mph), with gusts of up to 150 kph (93 mph), said chief government forecaster Nathaniel Cruz.

After hitting land in Isabela late Sunday, the typhoon veered toward the country's mountainous northern provinces, where authorities evacuated thousands of people due to fears of landslides.

The typhoon flooded at least 50 villages in Isabela, a province of more than a million people. A swollen river in the provincial capital, Ilagan, engulfed at least 10 houses whose residents fled to safety, officials said. They said most of Isabela had no power.

In nearby Cagayan province, strong winds toppled trees and knocked down power poles, cutting off electricity in the province of nearly a million, Gov. Alvaro Antonio said. The province's rice industry suffered losses.

"We were just one or two weeks away from harvest time. I'm afraid we've lost everything to the flood and strong winds," Antonio told The Associated Press by telephone.

The Agriculture Department estimated losses at US$2.5 million (?1.7 million) _ still a fraction of the US$246 million incurred during last year's typhoons.

A landslide covered a road in the resort town of Pagudpud in northern Ilocos Norte province, blocking buses and cars but apparently causing no injuries. Troops were deployed to clear the road, said army Maj. Gen. Melchor Dilodilo.

Classes were suspended in several provinces, partly because some school buildings were used to shelter evacuees, officials said.

Mitag has been the most erratic of the 13 typhoons and major storms that have hit the Philippines this year. It first headed for the populous Bicol region, where more than 250,000 people were evacuated, but shifted Saturday to the north.

As authorities scrambled to shift their focus to the northern provinces of Isabela, Aurora and Cagayan, forecasters said another storm that killed 13 people in the Philippines last week before heading for Vietnam had reversed direction.

Hagibis, a typhoon that had weakened to a tropical storm, re-entered Philippine waters and was expected to lash the western Philippine province of Palawan on Tuesday, forecasters said.

Disaster-response agencies, along with troops and police, were ordered to brace again for Hagibis, a Philippine name for rapidly galloping animals.

Mitag and Hagibis were affecting each other, resulting in their erratic movements, said government forecaster Frisco Nilo. Government forecasters were also monitoring a new low pressure area that could develop into a storm over the Pacific Ocean and affect the Philippines in a few days, Nilo said.