MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A tropical storm has left at least three people dead and displaced hundreds of villagers in the southern and central Philippines, where it triggered floods and landslides, officials said Wednesday.
Forecasters said the storm Choi-wan was southwest of central Masbate province early Wednesday with sustained winds of 65 kilometers (40 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 90 kph (56 mph). It was moving northwestward and may weaken as it blows toward the South China Sea on Thursday, they said.
At least three people died, including a 14-year-old villager who rushed with her father to a riverbank to rescue their farm animals in intense rain but were swept away by strong currents in Norala town in South Cotabato province. The father remains missing, the Office of Civil Defense said.
Coast guard personnel rescued villagers who were trapped in houses engulfed in rising floodwater, including in Southern Leyte province, where they carried 40 residents, including children, in waist-deep waters to a gymnasium.
More than 2,600 people were displaced, mostly by floods, in 18 southern villages, including about 600 villagers who moved to evacuation centers. Officials said more spaces were needed to shelter the evacuees as a safeguard against the coronavirus.
More than 3,000 passengers and cargo handlers were stranded in central and southern seaports after sea travel was suspended by the coast guard due to stormy weather. A small cargo ship laden with sand and gravel was abandoned by its crew when it started to take in water near Albuera town in central Leyte province. The crew was safe, coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said.
About 20 tropical storms and typhoons batter the Philippine archipelago each year. The Southeast Asian nation is also located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, a seismically active region where volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur frequently, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.
The Associated Press
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