Jul 5, 8:13 AM EDT

Tropical storm causes floods, knocks out power in northern Philippine towns

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MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- A tropical storm blew across the northern Philippines on Sunday, causing floods and power outages in several towns and prompting rescue teams to scramble to evacuate villagers in low-lying communities.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from slow-moving Tropical Storm Linfa, which set off minor landslides in at least two mountainous provinces, officials said.

The storm, which had sustained winds of 85 kilometers (53 miles) per hour and gusts of 100 kph (62 mph), was expected to start blowing away from the country on Monday, according to government forecasters.

Melchito Castro, a regional disaster-response agency chief, said the hardest-hit area was La Union province, where 11 towns were swamped in floodwaters that stranded villagers in their homes. The entire province lost power as the storm lashed, he said.

"There's massive flooding here in La Union," Castro said, adding that the pounding rain caused about three rivers to swell.

Rainwater also cascaded down from a mountain range and swamped La Union, a coastal province of about 800,000 people, officials said.

Police said a private helicopter plunged into a mountainous area in Batangas province south of Manila in bad weather from the storm, killing at least two people and injuring six others. It was not immediately clear if the crash was caused by the weather, and an investigation was underway.

"There was zero visibility when the crash happened," police Senior Inspector Joel Laraya said by phone.

Linfa was the fifth storm to batter the Philippines this year and the first after a prolonged and dry summer that threatened farmlands and dams that supply tap water and irrigation in many areas. About 20 storms and typhoons batter the country each year.

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