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Powerful Typhoon Batters Philippines

A powerful typhoon cut across the northern Philippines, hitting the capital with gale-force winds and pounding rain and leaving at least 28 people dead amid widespread floods and damage, officials said.

The Manila airport, which cancelled domestic and international flights due to the high winds and power outages, resumed operations by early Thursday evening.

Typhoon Xangsane toppled more than a dozen high voltage power lines, causing a "total system blackout" on the main Philippine island of Luzon, said Arvee Villafuerte, spokesman of the state-run National Transmission Corp.

He said the power restoration was slow because of the extent of the damage. The blackout and debris left Manila without traffic and street lights, causing gridlocks in some areas. Hotels and shops used their own generators.

The Office of Civil Defense and local officials reported at least 17 people were killed, including a drunken man who fell into a river in central Antique province, a driver pinned under the steel frames of a giant billboard that fell on his van in Manila's financial district of Makati, and a man hit by a falling tree in Albay province southeast of Manila.

The typhoon packed maximum winds of 81 mph and gusts of up to 100 mph when it made landfall overnight in the central Bicol region, where it knocked down electricity in five provinces.

It weakened into a storm with 69 mph winds as it passed over Manila, and moved to the South China Sea Thursday evening, heading west toward Vietnam at 14 mph with gusts of up to 88 mph, forecasters said.

Gale-force winds toppled trees and heavy downpours triggered landslides, blocking some provincial roads. The typhoon also shut schools, ferries and the country's financial markets, and forced officials to suspend two commuter trains in metropolitan Manila. A much-awaited college league basketball championship game was postponed.

Antique's acting governor Eduardo Fortaleza said rescue workers evacuated about 100 residents who were trapped on an islet in the middle of a raging river in Barbaza town.

It was the strongest typhoon to hit Manila in 11 years. In November 1995, the 163-mph super typhoon Angela battered the Philippine capital after slicing through central provinces, leaving 936 people dead.

Xangsane, the Laotian word for elephant, is the 10th typhoon this season.

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