At Least 10 Dead, 25 Missing as Storm Xangsane Whips Philippines
Tropical Storm Xangsane carved a deadly trail as it whipped through the Philippines, leaving at least 10 people dead, 25 missing and 221 injured, disaster officials said Sunday.
Heavy rains and high winds caused floods and power outages in Manila, and many flights leaving the capital on Sunday were delayed because of manpower problems.
"Many airport staff could not make it because of the floods, so flights are incurring delays," a spokeswoman for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport said as queues built up at check-in counters.
At least eight international and 22 domestic flights were cancelled Saturday.
The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said nearly 30,000 people in several provinces had been evacuated to safer areas following flash floods triggered by strong rains overnight.
Outlying provinces and suburbs near Manila were still submerged in waist-deep waters early Sunday, as disaster officials continued their rescue and relief efforts.
Red Cross officials said they were also assessing the extent of the damage wrought by Xangsane, with staff preparing to leave for affected areas.
Government relief agencies said they had stocks of rice and canned goods in the event that the number of evacuees grew. Trucks were also on stand-by to clear any landslides obstructing roads.
In Manila and the southern Luzon provinces, electricity supplies were still out early Sunday after winds of up to 110 kilometers (68 miles) per hour cut transmission lines.
Power retailer the Manila Electric Co. said repairs were under way but large areas in the north and south of Manila could still be in without power for most of the day.
It said about 81 power circuits, covering hundreds of villages, were still out of commission.
Among the 10 people killed in storm-related accidents were Alberta Rosario, who was buried by a collapsed wall in Manila, and Pepito Felis of Catanduanes province, who was electrocuted. Many of the others drowned, the OCD said.
Communication links to some provinces remained cut off, with the OCD saying that the death toll could rise once reports from these areas begin to trickle in.
The OCD said 221 people were injured, many of them in the eastern province of Sorsogon, Xangsane's entry point. It said 19 of the 25 missing people were passengers on eight small ferries which capsized off eastern Samar province.
Estimates of damage to crops and property have reached 439.56 million pesos (8.6 million dollars).
"We are trying our best to monitor all affected regions, but power and communications links are still out of order in other areas," said ODC official Dina Quitoriano.
"Reports of damage are big, but we will be here 24 hours to keep taking calls and respond to affected public."
The government weather forecasting bureau said Xangsane had weakened at dawn Sunday as it headed for western Zambales province.
With the strongest sustained winds of 75 kilometers (46 miles) per hour at the center, it is expected to move in the general direction of southern China but was unlikely not leave Philippine territory until early Monday.
It was likely to gain strength again as it traveled over the South China Sea, the bureau said.
Public storm warnings were still in effect in Zambales and the nearby provinces of Pangasinan and Bataan, where rains and heavy winds were expected to persist.
Sea vessels were advised not to venture out to sea, with coastal waters expected to be rough and dangerous, the weather bureau said -- MANILA (AFP)
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