Six Dead, 19 Missing as Tropical Storm Hits Philippines
Six people were confirmed dead and 19 people were missing at sea after tropical storm Xangsane slammed into the Philippines on Saturday, disaster-monitoring agencies said.
Two men were electrocuted by a fallen power line in Catanduanes island, southeast of Manila, while two more were crushed by a falling tree in Sorsogon province.
A man drowned in Mauban town, Quezon province while another person was killed in unknown circumstances in the Bicol region east of Manila, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said.
In addition, eight motorboats carrying 19 people were reported missing off the coast of Borongan town on the central island of Samar amid rough waters stirred up by the storm, the council said.
Five patrol boats were dispatched to search for the missing motorboats, the coordinating council reported.
More than 3,800 commuters were stranded at ferry terminals after the government barred ferry boats from departing, the council said.
The storm, which hit the eastern side of the main island of Luzon before dawn, also knocked out electrical services in the northern half of Samar Island and in the town of Virac in Catanduanes.
Flooding was reported in towns in the Bicol region, southeast of Manila with more than 1,600 people forced to flee their homes. They had been housed in evacuation centers and schoolhouses, the disaster coordinating council reported.
More than 200 motor vehicles were also stranded by flooding and bad weather in areas southeast of Manila.
Heavy rains fell on Manila overnight but there were no reports of any serious flooding.
Government relief agencies said they had stocks of rice and canned goods in the event that the number of evacuees should grow. Trucks were also on stand-by to clear any landslides obstructing roads.
As of 10:00 am (0200 GMT) Saturday, storm Xangsane was charted about 130 kilometers (80.6 miles) southeast of Manila, over the town of Gumaca in Quezon province, the government weather station reported.
The storm, packing maximum winds of 110 kilometers (68.2 miles) per hour with gusts of 140 kilometers (87 miles) per hour, was moving northwest at 19 kilometers (12 miles) per hour towards the provinces of Laguna and Cavite.
Xangsane was expected to pass near Metropolitan Manila before sundown Saturday and will likely weaken as it passes over land. However it is expected to strengthen when it reaches the sea again, the weather station said.
The highest level of a three-step storm signal had been raised over the eastern provinces of Quezon, Marinduque, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, the weather station said.
A second-level alert was raised over nearby provinces including Metropolitan Manila, while the first-level alert was in force over the rest of the northern and central parts of the main Philippine island of Luzon as well as some of the central islands – MANILA (AFP)
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