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SHAKE AND BLOW
53 dead in Philippines flooding and landslides
by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) Dec 31, 2014


Tropical storm leaves 54 dead as it exits Philippines
Manila (AFP) Jan 01, 2015 - Tropical storm Jiangmi exited the Philippines Thursday, leaving at least 54 dead and 13 missing from floods and landslides as officials said greater measures could have been taken to prepare for the deluge.

The storm's death toll was nearly triple that of the last major storm to hit the country, Super Typhoon Hagupit, earlier this month. That storm wreaked less havoc than expected thanks to timely precautionary measures.

Civil defence chief Alexander Pama admitted Thursday that more frequent warnings could have been aired in broadcast media.

"Probably we did not put (enough warnings) out in the media," he told DZMM radio.

However, he said, some people had ignored the warnings that were given and refused to leave their homes or had gone out to sea despite the storm.

"Maybe this will drive home the point to our countrymen that things are different now. Maybe now, when people are asked to evacuate, they will not resist," he said.

Jiangmi, which packed winds of 80 kilometres (50 miles) per hour, hit the southern and central Philippines earlier this week, affecting areas that were once untouched by the frequent weather disturbances that batter the country.

The storm affected more than 120,000 people, more than 80,000 of whom were evacuated.

The Philippines is battered by about 20 storms every year, many of them deadly.

Last year Super Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest ever to hit the country, left 7,350 people dead or missing in central regions as it stirred up tsunami-like waves, wiping out entire towns.

The death toll from flooding and landslides in the Philippines wrought by tropical storm Jangmi rose to 53 Wednesday, officials said, with some regions saying they were caught off guard by the deluge.

In Catbalogan town in Samar province 19 people died in a landslide that left homes and vehicles buried under rocks and mud, local Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan said, adding that the town had been surprised by the landslide.

"We did not expect a deluge. We thought the hill where the landslide hit was tough as rocks," she told AFP.

"There was no evacuation, people were just advised to prepare for possible landslides," she said. "We need to check communication systems to find out what went wrong."

Jangmi affected 121,737 people, of which 80,186 are in evacuation centres, according to the national disaster monitoring agency, which said that 53 people were killed overall.

The storm's death toll was nearly triple that of the last major storm to hit the country, Super Typhoon Hagupit, earlier this month.

Hagupit, with winds of 210 kilometres (130 miles) per hour, sparked a massive evacuation effort as it brought back memories of the strongest storm ever to hit the country, Super Typhoon Haiyan, whose 230-kilometre per hour winds left 7,350 dead or missing in 2013.

In Misamis Oriental province, floods flattened rice and corn fields resulting in an estimated 400 million pesos ($9 million) in damages, Governor Yevgeny Emano told DZMM radio.

"We were caught by surprise, we didn't expect that we would be hit by the eye of the storm," Emano said, although he noted he had received some warnings.

In Leyte -- the province worst-hit by Haiyan -- the rains brought landslides and floods that closed off major roads, Governor Leopoldo Domenico Petilla said on DZMM.

Mina Marasigan, the national disaster monitoring agency's spokeswoman, defended the government's handling of the storm saying weather warnings were sent out even as Jangmi was still forming over the Pacific Ocean.

"Maybe people underestimated the situation because it's a tropical depression, not a super typhoon. They dismissed it as weak," she said.

"We need to study what happened in this storm closely and find ways for the public to better understand storm warnings," Marasigan added.


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