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Deadly, Slow-Moving Storm Batters Southern Philippines

Froilan Gallardo and Richel V. Umel
Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City, Philippines
2017-12-22
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Rescuers reach out for two residents trapped in their roofs to escape floods caused by Tropical Storm Tembin in the southern Philippine city of Cagayan de Oro, Dec 22, 2017.
Rescuers reach out for two residents trapped in their roofs to escape floods caused by Tropical Storm Tembin in the southern Philippine city of Cagayan de Oro, Dec 22, 2017.
Froilan Gallardo/BenarNews

Updated at 5:01 p.m. ET on 2017-12-22

Rescuers on life rafts raced to pluck residents trapped on rooftops Friday, as Tropical Storm Tembin dumped heavy rains in the southern Philippines, killing at least 20 people, officials said.

The storm hit the eastern portion of Mindanao island late Thursday, bringing gusts of up to 130 km (81 miles) per hour with heavy rains that caused the banks of major waterways to spill over.

Floods affected about 29,500 residents and killed at least 20 people, according to police regional spokesman Superintendent Lemuel Gonda.

Four were also missing in floods that swamped a highway in the town of Lanao del Sur, rendering it impassable, provincial spokesman Zia Alonto Adiong said.

By Friday, the severe weather system was moving westward at a slow pace and was expected to pass out of the Philippines by Sunday.

Raging flood waters submerged houses in villages nears the swollen Cagayan de Oro River, and rescuers on life rafts could be seen Friday pulling out to safety a few residents trapped on rooftops.

City officials said more than 14,600 residents had been evacuated on Friday and about 4,000 people were rescued from flooded homes.

Tembin came days after Tropical Storm Kai-Tak caused widespread destruction in the central Philippines, killing at least 30 people and displacing more than 240,000.

Most of the bodies were recovered from low-lying villages and in towns near hinterlands areas, including in Biliran, where landslides killed at least 14 people.

Police rescue a resident of Cagayan de Oro, Dec. 22, 2017.
Police rescue a resident of Cagayan de Oro, Dec. 22, 2017. Froilan Gallardo/BenarNews


 

The latest storm toppled power lines in at least one city, Tandag, and eight towns as it made landfall Thursday night, said Jennifer Bracamonte Pena of the state-run Philippine Information Agency.

She said almost 500 families had been evacuated in at least two towns. Landslides also disrupted vehicular traffic, while four fishermen were reported missing Friday.

Rough seas also caused a passenger ferry to capsize off Quezon province south of the Philippine capital Manila on Thursday, killing five people.

In the town of Lanao del Norte, a landslide buried a cluster of homes in the remote town of Tubod, but officials said there had been no reports of deaths or injuries.  

At least 100 homes at a farming village were washed away by floods and destroyed by landslides, according to Roy Secuya, a local disaster-risk officer.

This update changed the number of fatalities from seven to 20.

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