At Least 45 Dead as Nalgae Makes Landfall in the Philippines

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Flash flooding and landslides have left at least 45 people dead and nearly 20 others missing as Severe Tropical Storm Nalgae battered the Philippines, officials said on Saturday.

Nalgae, called Paeng in the Philippines, made landfall early Saturday and was expected to continue barreling across the Southeast Asian nation over the weekend, bringing strong winds and torrential rain to large areas of the country — including Manila, the capital — the state weather agency said.

Overnight, rescuers reached submerged villages on rubber boats and canoes, searching for stranded people and pulling bodies out of the water and mud left by the storm. Rescue operations continued during the day as the storm moved westward with maximum sustained winds of 59 miles per hour and gusts up to 99 m.p.h.

By early afternoon, more than 409,000 people had been affected by the storm and 61,000 were displaced across the Philippines, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Among the areas hardest hit was the southern autonomous region of Bangsamoro, where at least 40 were dead and more missing as a result of flash floods, the department said.

“Our prayers go to the lives lost,” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. wrote on Twitter on Friday. He also offered prayers “to those who continue to be gravely affected by this calamity,” and advised those in the path of the storm to take precautions.

The Marcos administration said on Saturday that it had about 1.5 billion Philippine pesos, or about $27 million, in relief funds available and that it would provide 4.1 million pesos, about $72,000, to families affected by the storm. But local officials said that they needed more aid from the national government.

In Bangsamoro, which is predominantly Muslim and relatively impoverished, more than 330,000 people had been affected by the storm in Cotabato City, said Bruce Matabalao, the mayor. Bangsamoro was under a state of emergency on Saturday.

Even before making landfall, Nalgae had begun inundating villages, causing power outages in several cities and damaging hundreds of homes across the country on Friday, according to the country’s disaster agency.

More than 7,000 people had been pre-emptively evacuated, with hundreds of schools and offices closed and power in nine cities out by Friday afternoon, according to the country’s disaster agency. But there was no emergency declared or issued in many regions of the Philippines, despite forecasts of the approaching storm.

“I am deeply saddened by this tragedy that befell our country,” Senator Koko Pimentel said, adding that many local governments had been “caught by surprise.”

The Philippines endures about 20 tropical storms annually on average. The country straddles the Pacific typhoon belt, an area of the western Pacific Ocean where many of the world’s tropical cyclones form. Last month, Super Typhoon Noru slammed the densely populated main island of Luzon. In April, more than 120 died after Tropical Storm Megi pummeled the country.

The most powerful storm to hit the country in recent history was Typhoon Haiyan, which ravaged the central Philippines in 2013 with winds of at least 150 m.p.h., storm surges and flooding that left about 6,500 people dead.



Sumber: www.nytimes.com

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