POSTED: 5:11 a.m. HST, Jul 30, 2012
MANILA, Philippines >> A tropical storm dumped torrents of rain as it swept past the Philippines, knocking out power, churning seas and causing at least three deaths Monday.
The wild weather whipped up by Tropical Storm Saola as it roared off the country's northeast was compounded by a separate low-pressure area that lashed the capital overnight with tornado-like winds and a powerful thunderstorm. Many parts of Manila and outlying provinces were without power and low-lying areas were flooded.
Saola strengthened later Monday into a typhoon with sustained winds of 74 miles per hour and gusts of 93 mph. The howler was expected to blow toward Taiwan on Thursday, according to Manila's weather bureau.
Benito Ramos of the Office of Civil Defense said three people had died in the storm and another six were missing. One of the men who died had an asthma attack while he and about 100 other people were being rescued from a ferry that ran aground, caught fire then sank in rough seas late Sunday off central Romblon province.
In Manila, two barges that drifted off a pier smashed into wooden shanties on stilts in the city's Tondo slum, destroying dozens of huts but causing no injuries.
Coast guard officer Noli Casiano said residents fled from the wind and waves before the empty barges rammed their homes.
"We fled to safety as the waves suddenly grew strong and the wind howled," Ivy Rosario, a mother of two, told The Associated Press.
"When we came back, everything was destroyed," said Rosario, pointing to the debris-littered waters near where her home once stood. Some villagers jumped into the water to try to salvage floating belongings.
More than 28,600 people were battered by the flooding and pounding rain in the capital and seven provinces, half of whom fled from their inundated homes into government evacuation centers and houses of relatives, according to the government's disaster-response agency.
Saola is the seventh of 20 storms and typhoons expected to hit the Philippines this year. Saola is the name of a rare mammal found in Vietnam and Laos.