Tropical storm slams into Philippines, death toll rises to 72

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MANILA: Severe Tropical Storm buttocks crashed into the Philippines on Saturday, after triggering flash floods and mudslides that left at least 72 dead, authorities said.
Nalgae lashed Luzon, the archipelago’s main island, with top winds of 95 kilometers (59 miles) an hour after making landfall on sparsely populated Catanduanes Island before dawn.
Heavy rains from the approaching storm began Thursday in the southern Philippines, the state weather service said, flooding most rural areas on the island of Mindanao.
This was followed by mudslides and flooding, with fast-moving, debris-laden waters sweeping away entire families in some areas and damaging nearly 500 homes.
By Saturday morning, the death toll had risen to 72, said the country’s civil defense director, Raphael Alexander.
At least 14 people were still missing and 33 were injured, it added.
In recent years, flash flooding with mud and debris from largely deforested mountainsides has been among the deadliest dangers posed by typhoons in the Philippines.
Rescuers are focusing on the town of Kusiong, where dozens of bodies were recovered on Friday after the floods.
Flooding was also reported in several areas of the central Philippines, although no deaths were reported there.
Photos released by the coast guard showed rescuers using an old refrigerator as a makeshift boat to pull children out of a flooded community on the central island of Leyte.
The state weather service said Nalgae could hit the capital Manila, a sprawling metropolis of more than 13 million people, bringing “heavy, sometimes torrential rain.”
“Widespread flooding and rain-induced landslides are expected,” while there was “minimal to moderate risk of storm surge” or large waves hitting coastal areas, it added.
“According to our projections, this one is really strong, so we really prepared for it,” Alejandro said, adding that 5,000 rescue teams were on standby.
He urged residents in the storm’s path to stay home before the storm moves out into the South China Sea early Sunday.
“If it’s not necessary or important, we should avoid going out today because it’s dangerous and it can hurt you,” Alejandro said.
More than 7,000 people were evacuated before the storm made landfall, the civil defense office said.
the coastguard it has also suspended ferry services across most of the archipelago nation due to rough seas, stranding hundreds of vessels and thousands of passengers in ports.
The civil aviation office said it has filed more than 100 flights so far.
The storm hit at the start of a long weekend in the Philippines, when millions return to their hometowns to visit the graves of their relatives.
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 major storms each year that kill hundreds of people and keep vast regions in perpetual poverty.
Scientists have warned that such storms, which also kill livestock and destroy key infrastructure, are becoming more powerful as the world warms due to climate change.

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