Deadly storm lashes Philippines island

Rescuers were desperately searching for survivors after floods and landslides unleashed by a tropical storm in the Philippines killed more than 300 people and left at least 150 others missing, many buried alive under tonnes of debris.

    At least three towns were isolated by collapsing bridges

    Continued bad weather and darkness severely hampered relief efforts as rescuers tried to reach 150 people missing in Real, one of three devastated towns on the east coast of Luzon island that bore the brunt of the storm which struck on Monday, officials said.

      

    Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said she had been told by regional offices that there were 114 people killed in Real, another 100 dead in Infanta town and 92 more fatalities in General Nakar town, all in Quezon province.

      

    A civil defence official said a further 31 people died elsewhere in storm-related incidents.

     

    A deadly mix of logs and earth dislodged by heavy rain buried several areas in Real, Infanta and Nakar shortly before midnight after Monday's storm, said rescuers and survivors.

     

    Floodwaters

     

    Raging floodwaters carrying heavy logs knocked down bridges connecting the three towns, isolating them from traffic.

      

    "The area is not accessible because the bridges connecting them have collapsed," said local air force commander Colonel Alfredo Cayco, who is in charge of flying people in and out of the area.

      

    He said four helicopters had been used to ferry in supplies and rescuers and to take out the injured but darkness and continuing rains and winds forced them to call off flights for the night.

     

    "Definitely, we can't fly at night and the wind is getting rough," he said.

      

    A private helicopter on a rescue mission was buffeted by strong winds and crashed into a river near the city of Cabanatuan. Its pilot and passenger however were safe.

     

    Fears

      

    Cayco expressed fears the death toll could rise since the flood waters were continuing to rise.

      

    The raging waters carried heavy
    logs which knocked down bridges

    "The whole place is covered with mud and the waters are still rising," he said, adding that floodwaters were reaching some of the second-floor levels of buildings.

      

    Several thousand people are still stranded on their rooftops officials said.

      

    The tropical depression struck Infanta and Real on Monday before dissipating over the Sierra Madre, the weather bureau said.

      

    Meanwhile, another tropical storm bore down on the Philippines from the Pacific Ocean with maximum sustained winds of 110km an hour.

      

    The storm was estimated to be 1530km east of the eastern island of Samar shortly before nightfall, moving northwest at 33km an hour, meteorologists said.

    SOURCE: AFP


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