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By Rosemarie Francisco
MANILA, Oct 5 (Reuters) - A powerful typhoon that slammed into the northern Philippines over the weekend has made a U-turn and was being pulled back by another, stronger storm, officials said on Monday.
Typhoon Parma, the strongest typhoon to hit the country since 2006, killed 17 as it barrelled through the Philippines' northeast. It moved off the northwestern coast on Sunday but was being pulled back by another storm, Melor, and the system continues to drench the northern mountains with rain.
Parma, packing winds of 120 kph (75 mph) near the centre and gusts of up to 150 kph, is expected to remain almost stationary off the coast of Laoag City in the far northwest of the Philippines up to Thursday.
"We are closely monitoring the movements of typhoon Parma after it made a U-turn," Nathaniel Cruz, chief weather forecaster, told reporters.
"We're expecting a much stronger typhoon from the Pacific to enter into the Philippine area of responsibility late on Monday. The interaction between the two typhoons has prevented Parma from moving out of the country," Cruz said.
Melor is swirling in the Pacific and may veer towards the country's northeastern waters before heading for Japan. It is not expected to hit the Philippine mainland.
"Melor is the more powerful cyclone now, and it is dictating the direction Parma, which has weakened, will go," weather forecaster, Rene Paciente, said on radio.
Heavy rain in and around Manila, which is about 350 km (200 miles) southeast of the centre of Parma, could worsen the situation in the Philippine capital which is still recovering from floods a week ago brought by a previous storm, Ketsana.
Nearly 300 people were killed and about half a million were forced out of their homes by Ketsana. About 6.5 billion pesos ($139 million) in crops, mostly rice about to be harvested, were also damaged, forcing Manila to consider more rice imports this year. [ID:nMAN473995]
In Taiwan, thousands of residents from mudslide-prone villages in the island's south were evacuated as Parma brought heavy rains. Land and sea warnings remained in effect on Monday for about half of Taiwan as the army kept an eye on swollen creeks in two hard-hit parts of the northeast. (Additional reporting by Manny Mogato in Manila and Ralph Jennings in Taipei; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)