Storm finally blows away from north Philippines after leaving 22 dead, thousands displaced

A storm finally blew away from the main northern Philippine island Tuesday, after leaving at least 22 dead over the weekend and forcing more than 100,000 villagers into emergency shelters and destroying rice fields ready for harvest.

Disaster-response agencies said the rain dumped by Tropical Storm Koppu in the mountainous north flowed down rivers and flooded villages downstream in provinces like Pangasinan, where thousands of residents were evacuated Monday.

"We saw that there was lot of rain that fell in the mountains. There was a possibility of flash floods so residents were evacuated to safer grounds," said Melchito Castro of the regional Office of Civil Defense.

Koppu blew ashore as a powerful typhoon on Sunday before weakening. It was over the Luzon Strait on Tuesday with winds of 75 kilometers (46 miles) per hour and was expected to weaken further, according to the government's weather bureau.

The sun briefly shone in flood-hit northern provinces, where villagers started to shovel away thick mud that had covered homes, roads and farmlands in the country's main rice- and vegetable-growing region.

An initial government estimate showed damage to agriculture and infrastructure amounted to at least 5.3 billion pesos ($115 million).

At least 22 people were killed, mostly due to from drowning, landslides, fallen trees and collapsed walls. Several people were reported missing and more than 500,000 were affected by the storm, including 107,000 who fled to evacuation centers.

Koppu, Japanese for "cup," is the 12th storm this year to batter the Philippines, one of the world's most disaster-prone countries. In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan leveled entire towns in the central Philippines, leaving more than 7,300 people dead or missing.