50 dead, dozens missing as storm swept the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (AP) – Floods and landslides triggered by torrential rain have left at least 50 people dead, including in the hard-hit southern Philippine province, where as many as 60 villagers are feared missing and buried in a massive laden mudslide. On Saturday, officials said rocks, trees and debris.

At least 42 people were swept away by raging floodwaters and drowned or were hit by mudslides filled with debris in three towns in Maguindanao province from Thursday night to Friday morning, Najib Sinarimbo, interior minister of the five-province Muslim Autonomous Region said. The former separatist guerrilla war.

The state disaster response agency said another eight people died elsewhere in the country as Tropical Storm Nalgi hit the eastern province of Camarines Sur early Saturday morning.

But the worst impact of the storm so far was a mudslide that buried dozens of homes with up to 60 people in the Kosij tribal village in Datu Udin Sinsuat township in Maguindanao, Senarimbo told The Associated Press by phone, citing accounts of Kossig villagers who survived the war. . Floods and mudslides.

Army Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Almorato, who went to the mudslide-hit area on Saturday, said the muddy deluge buried about 60 rural homes in about 5 hectares (12 acres) of the community. He gave no estimate of how many villagers might have been buried in the mudslide, which he described as “overwhelming.”

Senarimbo said rescue workers retrieved at least 13 bodies, mostly children, on Friday and Saturday in Kosog.

“This community will be our starting point today,” he said, adding that heavy equipment and more rescue workers have been deployed to intensify search and rescue work.

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“It was hit by torrents of rainwater with mud, rocks and trees that washed away homes,” Senarimbo said.

He said the coastal village, which lies at the foot of a mountain, is accessible by road, allowing more rescuers to be deployed on Saturday to deal with one of the worst weather-related disasters to hit the south of the country in decades.

Citing reports from mayors, governors and disaster response officials, Senarimbo said 27 people died mostly due to drowning and landslides in Datu Udin Sinsuat township, 10 in Datu Blah Sinsuat township and five in Ubi township, all in Maguindanao.

Authorities recalled an official death toll of 67 in Maguindanao on Friday night after discovering some double counts of victims.

Unusually heavy rain flooded several towns in Maguindanao and outlying provinces in a mountainous area with swampy plains, which became like a fishing basin in the downpour. Sinarimbo said floodwaters rose rapidly in many of the lower villages, forcing some residents to climb onto the roofs of their homes, where they were rescued by army, police and volunteers.

The Coast Guard released pictures of rescuers wading through chest-high, brown flood waters to rescue elderly and children in Maguindanao. Many of the flooded areas have not been submerged in years, including Cotabato City where Senarimbo said his home was flooded.

Stormy weather across a large swath of the country prompted the Coast Guard to ban sea travel in dangerously rough seas as millions of Filipinos planned to travel over a long weekend to visit relatives’ cemeteries and reunite families for Halloween in India. The Roman nation is largely Catholic. Several domestic flights were also canceled, leaving thousands of passengers stranded.

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Government meteorologist Sam Doran said wide rain bands in Nalgi, the 16th storm to hit the Philippine archipelago this year, enabled it to dump rain in the south of the country even though the storm was blowing to the north.

The storm was hitting Laguna County Saturday night with sustained winds of 95 kilometers (59 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 160 kilometers per hour and moving northwest — south of the densely populated capital, Manila, which was expected to take a direct hit until it turned storm.

Officials said more than 158,000 people in several counties have been preemptively evacuated from the storm’s path.

The Philippine archipelago is hit by about 20 typhoons and storms every year. It is located on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an area along most of the Pacific Rim where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.

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Associated Press journalists Joel Claupitan and Aaron Favela contributed to this report.

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