Death toll at 45 as Tropical Storm Nalgae drenches Philippines

Maguindanao province has been hardest hit by rain-induced floods and mudslides.

Rescuers helping woman through flood waters
Rescue workers help evacuate people from a flooded area due to heavy rain brought by Tropical Storm Nalgae in Parang, Maguindanao on October 28, 2022 [Police Regional Office Bangsamoro Autonomous Region/ Philippine Coast Guard/AFP]

The Philippines has officially recorded 45 deaths from Tropical Storm Nalgae, which has brought flash floods and landslides to provinces in the south of the country, revising downward an earlier figure of more than 70, officials said.

The tropical storm, which has maximum sustained winds of 95km (59 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 160kph (99.4 mph), made landfall in the eastern Catanduanes province early on Saturday.

The southern region of Mindanao has been the hardest hit with 40 bodies recovered so far, national civil defence chief Rafaelito Alejandro said at a news conference in Manila.

Fatalities were also reported earlier in Sultan Kudarat, in South Cotabato, and in the Visayas region in central Philippines.

Earlier on Saturday the civil defence office had reported 72 dead, but Alejandro said the toll was reduced after local “validation”.

More than 30 people have been injured and 15 are missing, spokesman and civil defence chief for the southern region Naguib Sinarimbo told Agence-France Presse.

Man holds crying child as he stands in what looks to be fast-running flood waters. In the background, people try to cross the water holding onto a rope.
Rescuers help residents evacuate in Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat on October 28, 2022 [Regional Maritime Unit 12, Sultan Kudarat Maritime Police/AFP]

Storm Nalgae will bring heavy and at times torrential rains over the capital, Manila, and nearby provinces on Saturday as it cuts through the main Luzon island and heads to the South China Sea, the state weather agency said in its latest bulletin.

Barnaby Lo, reporting for Al Jazeera from Manila, said on Saturday that the capital had experienced around 10 hours of continuous rain and the precipitation was expected to continue through to Sunday.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration warned on Saturday that Nalgae (known locally as Paeng) will continue to cause flooding and rain-induced landslides as it crosses the country.

Search and rescue teams pulled bodies from the water and thick mud after Nalgae triggered flooding and landslides in the south of the country on Friday.

“We are now gathering all rescue teams and will conduct a briefing before deployment,” Nasrullah Imam, disaster agency official at Maguindanao province, said on Saturday. “It’s no longer raining so this will help our search and operation.”

An average of 20 tropical storms hit the Philippines annually.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr sent condolences to those who had lost their lives in the storm and reassured the public that emergency services were deploying with supplies of food and other items to the hardest-hit areas.

More than 7,000 people were evacuated ahead of the storm’s landfall, the civil defence office said.

The coast guard has also suspended ferry services through most of the archipelago nation due to rough seas, stranding hundreds of vessels and thousands of passengers at ports. Civil aviation authorities said that more than 100 flights had been cancelled so far.

The storm has struck at the beginning of a long weekend in the Philippines, when millions return to their hometowns to visit the graves of their relatives.

Scientists have warned that such storms, which also kill livestock and destroy key infrastructure, are becoming more powerful as the world gets warmer because of climate change.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies