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Death toll from storm in Philippines climbs to 39

Levelyn Alcoriza leaves her flood—submerged house to evacuate to Balzain Elementary School. — AFP
Levelyn Alcoriza leaves her flood—submerged house to evacuate to Balzain Elementary School. — AFP

CABANATUAN: The death toll from a storm that battered the Philippines’ main island over the weekend has climbed to at least 39, officials said yesterday. Tropical Storm Koppu, which barreled ashore as a powerful typhoon in the northeastern Philippines on Sunday before weakening, forced more than 100,000 villagers into emergency shelters and destroyed rice fields ready for harvest.

The storm blew away from the main island of Luzon on Tuesday and was over the Balintang Channel in the country’s northern tip yesterday morning, with winds of 55 kilometers per hour near its center, according to the government’s weather bureau. At least 39 people were killed in the storm, mostly due to drowning, landslides, fallen trees and collapsed walls, said civilian defense officials. Several people were reported missing and more than 500,000 were affected by Koppu, including 107,000 who fled to evacuation centers.

Disaster-response agencies said the rain dumped by the storm in the mountainous north flowed down rivers and flooded villages downstream in provinces including Pangasinan, where thousands of residents were evacuated Monday. “We saw that there was lot of rain that fell in the mountains. There was a possibility of flash floods so residents were evacuated to safer grounds,” said Melchito Castro of the regional Office of Civil Defense.

An initial government estimate showed damage to agriculture and infrastructure amounted to at least 5.3 billion pesos ($115 million). Koppu, Japanese for “cup,” was the 12th storm this year to batter the Philippines, one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries. In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan leveled entire towns in the central Philippines, leaving more than 7,300 people dead or missing. – AP

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