Tropical storm hits Philippines, death toll rises to 72

Tropical storm hits Philippines, death toll rises to 72


Severe Tropical Storm Nalgae slammed into the Philippines on Saturday after triggering flash floods and landslides that have killed at least 72 people, officials said.

Nalgae hit the archipelago’s main island, Luzon, with maximum winds of 95 kilometers per hour after making landfall on the sparsely populated island of Catanduanes before dawn.

Heavy rains triggered by the approaching storm began Thursday in southern Philippines, the state weather service said, flooding mainly rural areas on the island of Mindanao.

Landslides and flooding followed, with fast-moving, debris-laden waters sweeping away entire families in some areas.

As of Saturday morning, the death toll had risen to 72, said the country’s civil defense director, Rafaelito Alejandro.

At least 14 people are still missing, he added.

Rescuers are focusing on the village of Kusiong, where dozens of bodies were recovered Friday after the floods.

In recent years, mud and debris flash floods from largely deforested mountainsides have been among the deadliest hazards posed by typhoons in the Philippines.

The State Weather Service said Nalgae could hit the capital, Manila.

“Based on our forecasts, this one is really strong, so we really prepared for it,” Alejandro said, adding that 5,000 rescue teams are on standby.

He urged residents along the storm’s path to stay home.

More than 7,000 people were evacuated before landing, the civil defense agency said.

The Coast Guard has also suspended ferry services through most of the Philippines.

The storm hit at the start of a long weekend in the country, with millions returning to their hometowns to visit their loved ones’ graves.

The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 major storms each year, killing hundreds of people and leaving vast regions in perpetual poverty.

Scientists have warned that such storms, which also kill livestock and destroy vital infrastructure, will intensify as the world warms due to climate change.

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