MANILA, Philippines >> A typhoon flooded villages and farms in the northern Philippine’s major rice-growing region early Saturday (today in Hawaii), but officials said no casualties were immediately reported.
Typhoon Nari slammed into Aurora province northeast of Manila late Friday with 94 mph winds and gusts of up to 116 mph. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had called off his trip to the Philippines due to the weather.
More than 2,500 people were evacuated from several coastal villages of Aurora before the typhoon made landfall, said provincial disaster officer Amado Elson Egargue. Authorities shut off electricity for the entire province before the storm, and power restoration will depend upon the extent of the damage, he said.
In nearby Nueva Ecija province, Gov. Aurelio Umali told DZMM radio that fallen trees and electric pylons blocked all the major roads in the province. He said the initial estimate was that 15,000 hectares (37,050 acres) of rice may have been damaged or destroyed.
Bulacan provincial Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said more than 20 villages in two towns remained flooded Saturday, with some areas under about 6 feet of water. He said about 24,700 acres of rice and vegetable farms were damaged.
Weather forecaster Meno Mendoza said Nari weakened after hitting the mountains in Aurora then quickly blew across the rice-growing central plains of Luzon. It was centered about 50 miles off Zambales province over the South China Sea by midday Saturday and moving west.
The typhoon drenched Manila overnight but caused no widespread flooding. The sprawling capital of 12 million has been hit hard by floods because of poor infrastructure and clogged drainage and water canals — most of them blocked by densely populated slums — that are supposed to channel excess water into the sea.
The Philippines gets lashed by about 20 to 22 tropical storms a year, plus monsoon rains from July to December.
About 30 people died last month in monsoon flooding. Another 20 died this past week, mostly in the southern Philippines.
Associated Press writer Oliver Teves contributed to this report.