Typhoon Noul weakens after lashing Philippines, heads for Japan

MANILA (Reuters) - Typhoon Noul weakened on Monday as it headed to southern Japan after dumping heavy rains and bringing strong winds that flattened houses in coastal areas on the northeastern tip of the Philippines. Two people died when the typhoon made landfall on Sunday in the rice- and corn-producing province of Cagayan about 400 km (250 miles) north of the capital, Manila, toppling trees and cutting power in wide areas of the province. It was hovering 220 km (137 miles) northeast of Batanes province and was moving at 30 kph northeast towards southern Japan. The typhoon was packing winds of 140 kph (87 mph) and gusts of up to 170 kph (106 mph). British-based Tropical Storm Risk downgraded Noul on Monday to category two typhoon from category five on Sunday. The national disaster agency said two men died from electrocution as they were strapping down a tin roof on a house during the height of the typhoon. Despite the destruction wrought by Noul, it also brought much needed rains to rice and corn farms that had been hit by intense summer heat. (Reporting by Rosemarie Francisco)