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Rescuers bid to reach villagers

Rescuers are scrambling to deliver food and water to hundreds of villagers stuck on rooftops for days because of flooding in the northern Philippines, where back-to-back typhoons have left at least 55 people dead.

Typhoon Nalgae slammed ashore in north-eastern Isabela province on Saturday, then barrelled across the main island of Luzon's mountainous north and agricultural plains, which were still sodden from fierce rain and winds unleashed by another storm just days earlier.

Nalgae left at least three people dead, while Typhoon Nesat killed 52 others and left 30 missing in the same region before blowing out on Friday.

Nalgae was whirling over the South China Sea and heading toward southern China on Sunday, 230 miles from the Philippines' north-east coast, with sustained winds of 75mph and gusts of 93mph, according to the Philippine government weather agency.

China's National Meteorological Centre has urged people in areas expected to be lashed by rainstorms in the next three days, including on southern most Hainan island and in eastern Taiwan, to stay indoors and cancel large assemblies, China's official Xinhua News Agency said.

Nalgae roared through parts of Luzon that had been saturated by Typhoon Nesat, which trapped thousands on rooftops and sent huge waves that breached a seawall in Manila Bay. Nesat then pummelled southern China and was downgraded to a tropical storm just before churning into northern Vietnam on Friday, where 20,000 people were evacuated.

Seven towns north of Manila remained flooded on Sunday, including Calumpit in rice-growing Bulacan province, where hundreds of residents remained trapped on rooftops in four villages for the fourth day, many desperately waving for help. Rescuers aboard rubber boats could not reach them because of narrow alleys. Two air force helicopters were ordered deployed to drop water and food packs to the marooned villagers, officials said.

Calumpit Mayor James de Jesus pleaded for more help from the national government and the air force.

"The ones waving for help are the ones who need to be rescued first because they have elderly people and children with them," Mr de Jesus told ABS-CBN TV network.

"We can't rescue everybody because there are so many of them. It's impossible."

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