Thousands flee homes as deadly storm hits Philippines

Villagers wading through a flooded street yesterday in Brgy Calingatngan, in Borongan, on eastern Samar island. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TACLOBAN • At least three people were killed and tens of thousands were driven from their homes by floods as Tropical Storm Kai Tak pounded the eastern Philippines yesterday, cutting off power and triggering landslides, officials said.

Kai Tak, packing gusts of up to 110kmh, hit the country's third-largest island Samar in the afternoon and tore through a region devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan four years ago, the state weather service said.

The storm was forecast to slice across the rest of the central Philippines over the weekend.

Local officials reported three deaths on Leyte island - a two-year-old boy who drowned in the town of Mahaplag, a woman buried by a landslide and another person who fell into a flooded manhole in Ormoc city.

Samar and Leyte, with a combined population of about 4.5 million, had borne the brunt of Super Typhoon Haiyan four years ago, which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing.

Military trucks drove through rising floodwaters to rescue trapped residents, with more than 77,000 people now in evacuation centres, local officials said.

Strong winds toppled trees and power pylons, knocking out power throughout the region, while floods, small landslides and rock falls blocked roads and buried some homes, officials and witnesses said.

Farmland in the mainly rural region was also under water, while seven people were injured by landslides and flying objects, the regional civil defence office said in a report.

"It was like a flashback again for residents of Tacloban city," Vice-Mayor Sambo Yaokasin told television station ABS-CBN, referring to the Haiyan disaster.

Media reports showed images of flooded streets and corrugated iron roofing sheets flying off homes.

"Nearly half the villages here are flooded," Mr Marcelo Picardal, Vice-Governor of Eastern Samar province, told ABS-CBN.

Three other people were missing in Ormoc after being swept away by floods, Mayor Richard Gomez told CNN Philippines in an interview.

"We need a lot of water and a lot of blankets," he added, citing widespread flooding that may have contaminated the tap water system of the city of 200,000 people.

Ferry services along the storm's path were suspended due to rough seas, the civil defence office in the area said.

About 20 typhoons or weaker storms either make landfall in the Philippines or reach its waters each year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 17, 2017, with the headline 'Thousands flee homes as deadly storm hits Philippines'. Print Edition | Subscribe