MANILA (Reuters) - Tropical storm Nock-Ten slammed into the eastern mountain areas of the Philippines’ main island Luzon on Wednesday, killing 20 but sparing the country’s major rice-producing provinces, disaster and weather officials said.
Nock-Ten, the tenth storm to hit the poor Southeast Asian country this year, caused minor damage to rice farms and coconut-growing areas when it hit land mid-morning on Wednesday.
It is expected to exit toward the South China Sea later in the day.
“The threat in the capital region has decreased,” Rene Paciente of the state weather bureau told a news conference, adding Nock-Ten was expected to weaken, but may bring heavy rains in northern Luzon’s eastern mountain ranges.
Schools and some public offices were closed on Wednesday, but domestic flights to the central and southern Philippines were operating normally after disruptions on Tuesday. Ferry operations were still suspended.
At least 10 people were earlier reported killed by drowning, landslides and falling trees caused by the storm, which brought gusts of up to 120 kph (74 mph).
More than 645,000 people had been affected by the storm.
Tens of thousands sought temporary shelter in school buildings and public buildings in areas battered by Nock-Ten, said Benito Ramos, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
An average of 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year, killing people and destroying infrastructure, property and crops. The typhoons have been striking with greater intensity in recent years.
Reporting by Manny Mogato; Editing by Rosemarie Francisco and Daniel Magnowski