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Philippine capital braces for Nalga storm, death toll cut to 45

Philippine capital braces for Nalga storm, death toll cut to 45
  • Most casualties in Maguindanao province hit by landslide
  • Reducing the death toll to 45 from 72 after checks
  • The Philippines has an annual average of 20 tropical storms

MANILA (Reuters) – Manila and surrounding towns braced on Saturday for Tropical Storm Nalga, which killed 45 people, most of them caused by landslides, in the southern Philippine provinces.

The Southeast Asian nation’s disaster agency lowered the death toll to 45 from 72 after checking reports from field staff, including rescue workers searching for 18 missing people.

Residents in the capital’s coastal region have been evacuated while classes at all levels have been suspended, according to the mayor’s office.

Manila’s mayor, Lacona Bangan, has ordered the closure of the city’s cemeteries, which were expected to be visited by millions over the extended Halloween weekend, on Saturday.

The tropical storm, with maximum winds of 95 kilometers (60 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 130 kilometers per hour, caused several winds in the eastern Philippines on Saturday.

The State Meteorological Agency, in its latest publication, warned of widespread flooding and landslides due to heavy and sometimes heavy rains in the metropolitan area and neighboring prefectures as Nalge breaks through the main island of Luzon and heads into the South China Sea.

Airlines canceled 116 domestic and international flights to and from the main gateway to the Philippines. The Coast Guard said about 7,500 passengers, drivers, cargo assistants and 107 ships were stranded in ports.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Twitter that government agencies are providing aid and food packages to affected families.

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Coast Guard personnel guiding residents through chest-deep floods as rescuers used a monoblock plastic chair and an old refrigerator to transport children and elderly people in central Leyte county, according to photos released by the agency.

The bulk of the deaths, at 40, have been reported in the southern province of Maguindanao.

“We are not ruling out the possibility of more casualties,” Cyrus Torina, regional director for Maguindanao, told DZMM radio station. “But we pray it doesn’t rise significantly.”

The Philippines experiences an average of 20 tropical storms annually. In December, Category 5 Hurricane Ray swept through the central counties, killing 407 and injuring more than 1,100.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales). Editing by Chris Reese and William Mallard

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