Hundreds flee as Typhoon Son-Tinh hits southern Philippines

DAVAO CITY, Philippines, Oct 25 (Bernama) -- Hundreds of people fled their homes and several houses were damaged in southern Philippines by tropical storm Son-Tinh, local officials said Thursday.

About 120 families sought safer grounds as floods spawned by the storm inundated eight villages in General Santos city, Xinhua news agency reported.

Son-Tinh also toppled trees and power lines in Tagum city, leading to a black out in Davao del Norte capitol.

Raul Villocino, disaster officer in nearby Compostela Valley province, said Son-Tinh's strong winds produced big waves that slammed the province's coastal communities, destroying at least five houses in Maco town.

"Disaster teams in coastal communities are still on alert and monitoring the situation," Villocino said.

In northern Mindanao, about 600 passengers were stranded in various seaports as the Philippine Coast Guard ordered the cancellation of trips of passenger boats and ships and other sea craft.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said Son-Tinh is now over Tablas island, Romblon with maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometres per hour near the centre and gustiness of up to 80 kph. The storm is forecast to move west-northwest at a speed of 20 kph.

The Philippines sits in the so-called Typhoon Belt between the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean with at least 21 storms visiting the country yearly.