The death toll from severe tropical storm Nalgae, which unleashed floods and set off landslides in several parts of the Philippines, has climbed to 72, a spokesperson for a government disaster agency said on Saturday.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council spokesperson Rafaelito Alejandro said the bulk of the fatalities were in Maguindanao province in the southern Philippines, with 67 deaths. He added that at least 14 people have remained missing.
Maguindanao is a province in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Its interior and local government minister Naguib Sinarimbo said nine towns in Maguindanao were severely flooded, and most parts of Cotabato City in the BARMM were underwater for the first time in years. The BARMM has “raised our alert level to red” since Friday.
According to local media reports, a village in Datu Odin Sinsuat were buried in the landslide, resulting in at least 50 deaths.
Nalgae is the 16th cyclone to lash the Philippines this year. It slammed into Catanduanes, an island province in the Bicol region, before dawn Saturday.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said Nalgae was blowing maximum winds of 95 km per hour, with gusts of up to 160 km per hour on Saturday.
The national weather bureau said Nalgae was moving west-northwestward at 30 km per hour and expected to intensify further as it moved inland. It is forecast to cross Metro Manila and its adjacent areas early Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning.
The bureau warned flooding and rain-induced landslides are expected, especially in areas highly susceptible to these hazards and in localities with significant antecedent rainfall.
The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries globally, mainly due to its location in the Pacific Ring of Fire and Pacific typhoon belt. On average, the archipelagic country experiences 20 typhoons yearly, some of which are intense and destructive.
In April, the tropical storm Megi dumped rains in central and southern parts of the Philippines, inundating many areas and causing landslides, resulting in over 220 deaths. ■