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Typhoon death toll reaches 229 in Philippines
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The past weekend marked one of the darkest dates in the Philippines' natural disaster-battering history, with reports of floods, landslides, flooded streets and a sunken ship with over 700 passengers on board.

Residents wade through knee-deep floodwaters after a Typhoon Fengshen pelted metro Manila with torrential rain and high winds June 22, 2008.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo) 

Electricity, telephone lines and mobile phone signals were cut off in many parts of the archipelagic state, including capital Metro Manila.

The storm has stranded 5,095 passengers, 288 rolling cargo, 90 trucks, 59 passenger buses, 48 small vehicles, and eight sea vessels, the NDCC said.

Packing sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 150 kilometers per hour, the typhoon entered the Philippines from the eastern Samar island on Friday. It shifted course Sunday to the northwest and battered Manila at dawn, dumping heavy rain on the capital.

Moving northwest at 15 kilometers per hour, the storm is expected to exit through the western coast of Central Luzon by Sunday evening, the reports said.

The military has also readied its troops and vehicles to assist in rescue and relief operations, the military authorities said Sunday.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who left for the United States over the weekend, ordered an all-out effort to rescue the victims, especially those on the capsized ferry.

She blamed the coast guard officials for allowing the ferry to leave Manila late Friday despite foreseeable unfavorable weather.

Ferries are the common form of transportation in the Philippines with stretching 7,000 islands. The archipelago is also the site of the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster when ferry MV Dona Paz hit an oil tanker and sank, killing more than 4,000 people in December 1987.

(Xinhua News Agency June 23, 2008)

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