Typhoon Nari has caused widespread destruction in the northern Philippines, destroying buildings, killing 12 people and leaving more than two million without power.

Nari struck the country's east coast around midnight (1600 GMT on Friday), toppling trees and pylons as it cut a westward swathe through the farming regions of the main island of Luzon, officials said.

"While there were relatively few casualties, a lot of areas are still flooded," Eduardo del Rosario, head of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said.

Witnesses in the coastal town of Baler, near where Nari made landfall, said many large trees had fallen and clean-up crews with chainsaws were clearing the roads.

As Nari moved inland, dumping rain, a wall of mud fell on a police barracks near the town of Magalang, killing an officer awaiting deployment to rescue typhoon victims, the civil defence office in the region said.

Elsewhere in central Luzon, an old woman and four minors were crushed to death when trees crashed onto two houses and a vehicle, while the wall of a school collapsed and crushed an old man to death.

Rescue operation 

Another man was electrocuted by a loose power line while yet another died of a heart attack in an incident that disaster officials also blamed on Nari.

Two children and an elderly person drowned in the province of Bulacan, which suffered widespread flooding, Wilhelmino Alvarado, the provincial governor, told ABS-CBN television in an interview.

The network aired footage of earth-coloured floodwaters climbing above river defences and swamping farmland.

Soldiers, police, and local government workers used military lorries to rescue residents in flooded communities across the towns of San Miguel and Minalin, the regional civil defence office there said.

Even as Nari blew out to the South China Sea Saturday, with peak winds of 120km an hour according to the state weather service, the danger had not passed.

A farmer and a woman on separate motorbikes were nearly swept away and had to be pulled back to safety by policemen when they tried to cross a street that had turned into a raging river.

The typhoon blacked out 37 towns and cities across the region.

Source: Agencies