- Heavy casualties in landslide-hit Maguindanao province
- The death toll was reduced from 72 to 45 after the trial
- The Philippines has an average of 20 tropical storms per year
MANILA, Oct 29 (Reuters) – Manila and nearby cities braced on Saturday for Tropical Storm Nalke, which killed 45 people as it triggered landslides in the southern provinces of the Philippines.
The Southeast Asian country’s disaster agency lowered its death toll from 72 to 45 after verifying reports from ground crews, including rescuers searching for 18 missing people.
Residents of the capital’s coastal area were evacuated, while classes at all levels were suspended, the mayor’s office said.
Manila Mayor Honey Laguna-Bangan on Saturday ordered the closure of the city’s cemeteries, which will be visited by millions during the extended All Saints Day weekend.
The tropical storm, with maximum sustained winds of 95 kilometers per hour (60 mph) and gusts of 130 km per hour (80 mph), caused several landslides in the eastern Philippines on Saturday.
The State Meteorological Agency, in its latest press release, has warned of widespread flooding and landslides due to heavy rains and at times heavy rains in the capital region and adjoining provinces.
Airlines have canceled 116 domestic and international flights to and from the main gateway to the Philippines. About 7,500 passengers, drivers and cargo attendants and 107 vessels were stranded in ports, the Coast Guard said.
Government agencies are providing aid and food packages to affected families, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Twitter.
According to photos shared by the agency, coastguards guided residents through chest-deep floods, while rescuers used a monoblock plastic chair and an old refrigerator to transport children and the elderly in central Leyte province.
Most of the deaths, at 40, were reported in the province of Southern Maguindanao.
“We are not discounting the possibility of more casualties,” Maguindanao’s provincial administrator Cyrus Torrena told radio station DZMM. “But we’re praying that it doesn’t rise significantly.”
The Philippines sees an average of 20 tropical storms annually. In December, Category 5 Cyclone Rai devastated the central provinces, killing 407 and injuring more than 1,100.
Report by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Chris Rees and William Mallard
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