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At least 31 killed as storm submerges villages across Philippines

MANILA – At least 31 people were killed as heavy rains from incoming tropical storm Nalgae caused chest-deep floods and triggered landslides in several provinces across the Philippines on Friday.

The casualties were tallied so far in Maguindanao province in the southern regional island of Mindanao, said Mr Naguib Sinarimbo, spokesman and civil defence chief for the Bangsamoro regional government.

Ten of the dead were from the flood-hit town of Datu Blah Sinsuat, while rescuers in rubber boats retrieved another 16 bodies in the neighbouring town of Datu Odin Sinsuat. Five people were also found dead in Upi town.

In neighbouring Cotabato province, several areas were deluged by chest-deep water, forcing people to flee their homes.

Mr Sinarimbo said severe flooding has likely affected over 90 per cent of the villages and over 67,000 residents in Cotabato City.

“In the decades we have lived here in Cotabato, this is the first time that floodwater has entered my own home. It’s really severe,” he told reporters.

Nalgae, the 16th tropical cyclone to hit the Philippines in 2022, is currently 115km off the east coast over the Philippine Sea, and is expected to make two possible landfalls over the weekend. It has whipped up sustained winds of up to 75kmh, with occasional gusts topping 90kmh.

Nalgae’s is expected to intensify into a typhoon, with wind speeds exceeding 118kmh, before it makes landfall. It may first hit Catanduanes, an island about 570km south-east of the capital Manila. Parts of the capital have started to experience moderate to heavy rains, too.

The storm may also make landfall a second time in the north-east coastal provinces of Quezon and Aurora on Sunday morning.

In Visayas, the group of islands in central Philippines that includes Cebu and Leyte, evacuation has begun in several towns in Capiz and Aklan provinces due to rising waters.

Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental was also not spared, with water level reaching the rooftops of several houses in Poblacion village. The city’s disaster office said at least 176 households have been affected, and over 1,000 residents evacuated so far.

Thousands are now stranded in several seaports in the Bicol region and Eastern Visayas after the Philippine Coast Guard suspended sea travel due to the storm.

The state weather agency already warned that more heavy rainfall as well as strong to gale-force winds can be expected to hit large swathes of the Philippines, including Metro Manila, as Nalgae barrels through the country over the weekend.

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Source: Straits Times

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