Philippine storm death toll rises past 20
MANILA: At least 22 people died from a storm that swept through the central Philippine islands at the weekend, authorities said yesterday, with rescue operations under way in flood-inundated communities.
The storm brought heavy rain to the Bicol and Eastern Visayas regions.
Many of the deaths were due to landslides and drowning, it added, saying 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 AFP.
At least 16 people died in Bicol and six others in Eastern Visayas, officials said.
More than 22,000 people fled their homes ahead of the storm, which destroyed rice and corn crops and left roads and bridges inaccessible.
Forecasters said yesterday that heavy rain would continue over the next 24 hours.
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. - AFP