Super Typhoon Megi Heads For China

MANILA (Reuters) – Typhoon Megi cleared the Philippines’ main island and headed toward China on Tuesday, and authorities said initial estimates showed around 105,000 tons of the region’s unmilled rice crop had been damaged.

The agriculture department’s early assessment that around 10 percent of the Cagayan valley’s annual crop had been damaged was well below a worst-case scenario of more than 230,000 tons. The area accounts for about 12 percent of national production.

Megi, known locally as Juan, was a category 5 super typhoon with winds in excess of 250 kph (155 mph) when it slammed into the east coast of north Luzon shortly before noon on Monday.

The national disaster agency put the death toll at seven, a low tally for such a strong typhoon in the country. Fuller assessments of the damage were expected on Tuesday, although the typhoon had cut power and communications in many areas.

After clearing the Philippines, Megi is expected to regain some strength over the South China Sea. Tropical Storm Risk’s (http://www.tropicalstormrisk.com) projections show the storm is expected to turn away from Vietnam toward China, with the center passing between Hainan island and Hong Kong.

Angelito Banayo, administrator of the National Food Authority (NFA) told Reuters on Monday the government’s worst case scenario was Megi could damage 232,169 tons of unmilled rice crop in the north with only 30 percent of it able to be harvested.

The Philippines is the world’s biggest rice importer and damage from the typhoon could see it buy more than had been expected for 2011, which could push up international prices.

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