Death toll from Philippine storm Jangmi rises to 30

Residents help each other out from their inundated neighbourhoods after rains spawned by a tropical storm, locally known as Seniang, caused flooding in Misamis Oriental on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on Dec 29, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Residents help each other out from their inundated neighbourhoods after rains spawned by a tropical storm, locally known as Seniang, caused flooding in Misamis Oriental on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on Dec 29, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (AFP) - At least 30 people were killed in landslides and flash floods as tropical storm Jangmi slowly crossed the southern and central Philippines, dumping heavy rain for a second day on Tuesday, officials said.  

Rivers burst their banks and submerged villages in floods up to “neck-deep” while hillsides crashed onto homes and highways, officials said.  Some residents in vulnerable areas ignored evacuation warnings, Stephany Uy-Tan, mayor of the town of Catbalogan in Samar province, told DZMM radio.  

“The rains were really strong and people thought the storm won’t be too strong based on the news,” she said.  

Twelve people were killed after a landslide buried two vans on a mountainside highway in Catbalogan, she said.  “Rescuers report hearing voices from the rubble,” she said. 

Jangmi, which was forecast to bring up to 15 millimetres of rain per hour, barrelled through fishing and tourist areas on Tuesday, with about 1,700 people being evacuated ahead of its arrival.  

“We are focused on floods and landslides because, while the storm’s winds are weak, it will bring heavy rain,” national civil defence chief Alexander Pama told DZMM radio.  

An eight-year-old girl drowned after raging floodwaters washed away her family’s shanty home in the coastal town of Ronda in Cebu province, regional civil defence officer Allen Cabaron told AFP, adding that six of the girl’s housemates are missing. Two teenage boys, meanwhile, died from electrocution while wading through floodwaters in Loon in Bohol province, Mr Cabaron added.  

Rivers burst their banks, covering roads and highways in knee-deep floods that washed out bridges and stalled vehicles, Cabaron said, adding that floods in some areas were “neck-deep”.  

The deluge was expected to subside in Cebu and Bohol later Tuesday, but flooding was possible on Negros island further west, which is in the storm’s path, he said.  

On Monday, at least three people were killed after Jangmi, known locally as Seniang, slammed into the country’s mountainous southeastern region, triggering floods and landslides.  Up to 14,000 people evacuated in Surigao del Sur, where Jangmi first hit on Monday, will be sent home on Tuesday as floodwaters recede, Governor Johnny Pimentel told AFP.

Ten flights to and from the affected areas on Tuesday were cancelled, the Manila airport authority said in a statement.  Jangmi will be out of the central region after midnight Wednesday before brushing the southern tip of Palawan island on its way out of the country on Thursday, according to the state-run weather bureau.  

The Philippines is battered by about 20 storms every year, many of them deadly. This month Super Typhoon Hagupit left 18 people dead after it lashed central provinces with 210-kilometre per hour winds. Last year Super Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest ever to hit the country, left 7,350 people dead or missing in the same region as it stirred up tsunami-like waves, wiping out entire towns.