MANILA • At least 22 people died from a storm that swept through the central Philippine islands during the weekend, the authorities said yesterday, with rescue operations under way in inundated communities.
The death toll rose from four a day after the storm brought heavy rain to the Bicol and Eastern Visayas regions, causing massive flooding and landslides, the government's office of civil defence said.
Many of the deaths were due to landslides and drowning, it added, saying that floods had yet to recede even as the weather disturbance known locally as Usman weakened into a low pressure area.
"Most of the (affected) areas are underwater. We are sending troops and rubber boats to rescue families. In some areas, the floods have reached the roofs of homes," Mr Claudio Yucot, head of the Bicol region's office of civil defence, told Agence France-Presse.
At least 16 people died in Bicol. Mr Yucot said seven people drowned in Masbate province, while four people died in landslides in Sorsogon province. In Albay province, three people, including a three-year-old boy, died in a landslide, while in Camarines Sur province, a father and son were buried alive in a landslide. Six others were killed in Eastern Visayas, civil defence officials said.
More than 22,000 people fled their homes ahead of the storm, which destroyed crops and left some roads and bridges inaccessible. Government forecasters said yesterday that heavy rain would continue over the next 24 hours in the northern Philippines.
An average of 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people and leaving millions in near-perpetual poverty. The most powerful was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,360 people dead or missing in 2013.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA