Storm Leaves 130,000 Homeless, 19 Dead in Philippines
More than 130,000 people were left homeless and at least 19 were killed as Tropical Storm Xangsane ripped through the Philippines, disaster officials said Monday, predicting the death toll could rise.
The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said 27,945 families or a total of 133,761 people in 16 provinces had been displaced by floods or after their homes were destroyed when Xangsane began lashing the archipelago on Saturday.
At least five fishing boats capsized with an unknown number of people on board off the island of Samar in central Philippines, OCD official Melgabal Capistrano told AFP, adding they were verifying reports that an additional 13 small fishing vessels with at least 65 passengers had capsized in the same area.
Rescue teams were conducting "aerial surveys," he said.
At least 228 people have been injured by fallen trees, toppled electrical posts flying debris and landslides.
The worst hit area was the southeastern part of Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines.
The death toll could rise as government relief teams gain access to far flung villages isolated by power outages, floods and impassable roads, officials said.
"We now have 19 deaths, but we still have to receive reports" from some areas in the northern part of Luzon, Capistrano said. "It's possible the number could rise."
Xangsane is the 14th storm to hit the country so far this year, the OCD said.
Officials said nearly 25,000 people have been evacuated to safer areas following flash floods triggered by continuing heavy rains dumped by the storm.
At least five people meanwhile were reported buried by garbage landslides in San Mateo in Rizal province outside Manila and three more were washed away by strong floods in Cavite province south of the capital.
An incoming Philippine Airlines flight carrying 227 people from Honolulu hit strong turbulence spawned by the storm on Sunday, injuring at least 15 passengers, airport officials said.
The Airbus jet landed safely at the Ninoy Aquino international airport in Manila and most of the injuries were light, they said.
Flight delays were reported for the third day Monday as many airport staff stranded by floods could not make it to work.
OCD official Capistrano said some provinces have declared a "state of calamity" in their areas, with hundreds of villages, including those in Manila and nearby areas, still without electricity.
Thirty-six villages in the capital were still submerged in "flood waters ranging from one foot to waist deep," the OCD said.
Total estimated damage to crops and infrastructure has reached 641.31 million pesos (12.5 million dollars), it said.
Carmencita Reyes, governor of Marinduque island province south of Luzon, appealed on government television for help, saying the entire area has been plunged into darkness.
Electricity supplies were cut after a power barge of state-owned National Power Corp. malfunctioned at the height of the storm, she said.
The government weather bureau said Xangsane, packing maximum sustained winds of 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour, was tracking west of northern Dagupan city and was "expected to move northwest slowly."
It is forecast to be 370 kilometers (220 miles) west of northern Ilocos Sur province by Tuesday morning, although it is likely to gain strength within the next 12 to 18 hours, it said.
Public storm signals were still hoisted in several northern provinces, where rains and strong winds are expected to prevail within the day. Seas will be rough and dangerous to all types of vessels, it said -- MANILA (AFP)
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