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The Philippines

At least 26 killed in Philippines by landslides caused by Tropical Storm Kai-Tak

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 December, 2017, 5:48pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 December, 2017, 11:04pm

Landslides triggered by Tropical Storm Kai-Tak have killed 26 people and 23 more are missing in the eastern Philippines, authorities said on Sunday.

The deaths were reported in the small island province of Biliran, a day after the storm pounded the east of the archipelago nation.

Kai-Tak tore across the major islands of Samar and Leyte on Saturday, toppling power lines in 39 towns or cities and damaging roads and bridges, the national disaster agency said.

Some 87,700 people were forced from their homes in the region.

“There is a total of 26 people dead from landslides in four towns of Biliran. We have recovered the bodies,” said Sofronio Dacillo, provincial disaster risk reduction and management officer.

Gerardo Espina, governor of the island province just east of Leyte, gave the same figure for deaths in an interview on ABS-CBN television. He said 23 people were missing.

Kai-Tak weakened on Sunday afternoon, with gusts of up to 80km an hour, and was reclassified as a tropical depression, state weather forecasters said.

But disaster officials warned that more floods and landslides were possible and said 15,500 passengers were stranded because ferry services remained suspended in parts of the region.

“I’ve been stranded for three days, sleeping in the bus, and I just want to get home to my family for Christmas,” said Eliaquin Pilapil, a 55-year-old farmer from a port in the town of Matnog in the eastern province of Sorsogon. “We’re given food once or twice a day and some of the passengers here are running out of money.”

The Christmas holidays are a busy travel season in the mainly Catholic Philippines, with people heading home to the provinces.

The archipelago nation is battered by about 20 major storms each year.

Kai-Tak, initially classified as a tropical storm, killed three people, injured 19 and forced 87,700 people from their homes when it tore across the eastern islands of Samar and Leyte on Saturday.

The two islands bore the brunt in 2013 of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing.

Kai-Tak toppled power lines in 39 towns or cities and damaged roads and bridges, the national disaster agency said.

In the Leyte city of Tacloban, it brought flash floods of up to 1.5 metres and strong winds that left the city without power and water, according to its disaster office chief.

“The storm moved so slowly that it brought so much rain to our city. The floods resulted from four days of rain,” said Ildebrando Bernadas, head of Tacloban’s disaster risk reduction office.

Bernadas said 82 per cent of Tacloban’s districts were flooded.

The storm also damaged farms and crops, bringing more misery to people who had been recovering from Haiyan’s destruction.

“We had a phobia from [Haiyan] which destroyed our coconut trees. We planted lettuce and eggplant but the new storm took them away too. It’s devastating,” said Remedios Serato, a 78-year-old farmer in Leyte.