12/03/2004, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Another typhoon hits Philippines, more than a thousand dead or missing after a week

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A new typhoon hit the eastern Philippines yesterday.

With gusts of wind of up to 220 kph, typhoon Nanmadol struck the Bicol peninsula southeast of Manila bringing to a virtual halt rescue operations for the victims of last week's tropical depression Winnie, which had caused over a 1,000 dead and missing.

Ferry services between Manila and Bicol peninsula have been suspended and offices and schools closed in the capital and neighbouring provinces.

Rescue reports by the Filipino military in the cities of Real, Infanta and General Nakar (about 75 km east of Manila), battered by Winnie on Monday, speak of 484 bodies recovered and another still 350 missing.

With Nanmadol the toll of dead and missing is expected to rise. Civil protection authorities in Manila have reported tens of dead and missing on Luzon, the archipelago's main island. So far, eight people are reported dead and another 1,500 displaced.

It is the fourth typhoon to hit the country in just two weeks.

The Philippines Agriculture Department said the four typhoons have caused an estimated US$ 14.7 million in damage.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo yesterday ordered a nationwide crackdown on illegal logging, which is blamed for exacerbating the problem.

For years, local sources have told AsiaNews, the government has taken steps against illegal logging but to little avail. Typhoons and subsequent flooding are common place: about 20 occur each year.

For environmental experts, only 13 per cent of the country's forests is untouched.

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