At least 42 killed as tropical storm Nalgae lashes Philippines

Residents trapped inside a gym in the town of Upi in Maguindanao province, southern Philippines, on Oct 28, 2022. PHOTO: AFP
Residents trapped inside a gym in the town of Upi in Maguindanao province, southern Philippines, on Oct 28, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

MANILA – At least 42 people were killed as heavy rain from incoming tropical storm Nalgae caused chest-deep floods and triggered landslides in several provinces across the Philippines on Friday.

The casualties were tallied so far in Maguindanao province in the southern regional island of Mindanao, said Mr Naguib Sinarimbo, spokesman and civil defence chief for the Bangsamoro regional government.

Ten of the dead were from the flood-hit town of Datu Blah Sinsuat, while rescuers in rubber boats retrieved another 27 bodies in the neighbouring town of Datu Odin Sinsuat. Five people were also found dead in Upi town.

A video posted by resident Remar Pablo showed people trapped in the municipal gym in Upi town after knee-deep flood water entered the premises. The crowd, which attended an event there till the wee hours of Friday, took refuge on the elevated seats in the gym as the waters started to rise.

In neighbouring Cotabato province, several areas were deluged by chest-deep water, forcing people to flee their homes.

Mr Sinarimbo said severe flooding has likely affected over 90 per cent of the villages and more than 67,000 residents in Cotabato City.

β€œIn the decades we have lived here in Cotabato, this is the first time that flood water has entered my own home. It’s really severe,” he told reporters.

Nalgae, the 16th tropical cyclone to hit the Philippines in 2022, is expected to make two possible landfalls over the weekend. It has whipped up sustained winds of up to 75kmh, with occasional gusts topping 90kmh.

It is expected to intensify into a typhoon, with wind speeds exceeding 118kmh, before it makes landfall. It may first hit Catanduanes, an island about 570km south-east of the capital Manila which also experienced moderate to heavy rain on Friday.

The storm may also make landfall a second time in the north-east coastal provinces of Quezon or Aurora on Sunday morning.

In Visayas, the group of islands in central Philippines that includes Cebu and Leyte, evacuation has begun in several towns in Capiz and Aklan provinces due to rising waters.

Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental was also not spared, with water level reaching the rooftops of several houses in Poblacion village. The city’s disaster office said at least 176 households have been affected, and more than 1,000 residents evacuated so far.

Thousands are now stranded in several seaports in the Bicol region and Eastern Visayas after the Philippine Coast Guard suspended sea travel due to the storm.

The state weather agency has already warned that more heavy rainfall and strong to gale-force winds can be expected to hit large swathes of the Philippines, including Metro Manila, as Nalgae barrels through the country over the weekend.

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