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229 dead in Philippines typhoon: official

ILOILO, June 22 – At least 229 people are confirmed dead and at least six missing after Typhoon Fengshen ravaged central and southern Philippines, Red Cross and civil defence officials said on Sunday.

The toll does not include those dead or missing from a ferry that sank in the central Philippines with about 747 people aboard. Four people have been confirmed dead and there are four survivors from that accident.

The rest are unaccounted for.

The central province of Iloilo has suffered the heaviest losses after being hit by the typhoon on Saturday, with 101 dead, Philippine Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon said.

Other fatalities were recorded in the neighbouring provinces of Romblon, Cotabato, Antique and Capiz, Gordon added.

The civil defence office recorded 26 fatalities in the southern island of Mindanao.

"This (toll) will definitely rise dramatically when we get the listings from the ship," he said, referring to the Princess of the Stars ferry that sank off Sibuyan Island amid heavy seas on Saturday.

Floodwaters in Iloilo rose so swiftly that many residents were forced to take refuge on rooftops or in the branches of tall trees, said provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada.

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The flooding in Iloilo eased Sunday, allowing vehicles to reach once-flooded areas, Mejorada said.

Over 35,500 families had to be evacuated from their homes due to the flooding and risk of landslides, the civil defence office said.

Electricity was knocked out in Iloilo and surrounding areas and officials do not expect power to be restored for about a week.

Telephone lines and cell phone towers were down in many areas.

Manila and surrounding areas were lashed by the typhoon in the early hours of Sunday, with power being knocked out in large parts of the city and many domestic and international flights cancelled.

There were no immediate reports of deaths or damage in the capital but the Education Department cancelled classes on all levels in Metropolitan Manila and surrounding areas on Monday.

The typhoon has continued to move northwest, passing Metropolitan Manila and over the northern half of the main island of Luzon.

Typhoon Fengshen, packing maximum winds of 120 kilometres per hour near the centre, is expected to move northwest at 15 kilometres per hour.

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