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Philippines president orders emergency aid after storm Nalga kills 45

Philippines president orders emergency aid after storm Nalga kills 45
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  • The death toll stands at 45, with 17 missing
  • Maguindanao province suffered the most casualties from the landslide
  • The Philippines experiences an average of 20 tropical storms annually

MANILA, Oct 29 (Reuters) – Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Saturday ordered the distribution of emergency relief to a southern province where landslides triggered by Tropical Storm Nalga have so far killed 45 people across the country.

Heavy rain and strong winds lashed the capital, Manila and surrounding areas for much of Saturday as Nyalga forced thousands of people from their homes and disrupted peak holiday travel in much of the country.

Nalga is the second deadliest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year, with the disaster agency reporting 45 deaths, mostly in the hard-hit Maguindanao province. 33 others were injured and 17 are missing.

“We could have done better in Maguindanao in terms of preparedness. 40 dead, 10 missing is a bit high there,” Marcos said in a briefing with disaster officials.

He ordered the immediate distribution of potable water and sanitation systems to the province and other parts of the badly affected southern Philippines.

In the country’s capital region, which includes Manila and other cities, flooding prompted authorities to suspend classes and sporting events.

Airlines canceled 116 domestic and international flights to and from major gateways to the Philippines, which halted operations from 0800 to 1400 GMT due to strong winds, the transport ministry said.

About 7,500 passengers and workers and 107 ships were stranded in the country’s ports, the Coast Guard said.

Manila Mayor Hani Lacuna-Pangan ordered the closure of the city’s cemeteries on Saturday, where millions of people were expected to visit during the extended All Saints Day weekend.

Nolga maintained its strength, with maximum sustained winds of 95 kilometers (60 mph) and gusts of up to 115 kilometers (71 mph) as it cut through the main island of Luzon and headed toward the South China Sea, the state weather agency said.

Another tropical depression gaining strength in the Pacific Ocean may enter the Philippine territory on Tuesday, it added.

About 170,000 people have been forced from their homes by the storm, with about a third of them taking shelter in evacuation centers, government data showed.

In central Leyte province, coast guard personnel led residents through chest-deep flood waters, with rescuers using a plastic chair and an old refrigerator to float children and the elderly to safety, images shared by the weather agency showed.

Marcos said the aid response should be stepped up after Nalga leaves land — Sunday morning, according to the latest forecast.

“Let us not wait for helicopters and airplanes to fly resources. If the weather is not good, find more ways to deliver relief goods, water and medicine,” he said.

The Philippines experiences an average of 20 tropical storms per year. In December, Category 5 Typhoon Rai devastated Central Province, killing 407 and injuring more than 1,100.

Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Edited by Chris Rees, William Mallard and Helen Popper

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