By Agence France-Presse
MANILA – At least 30 people were killed in landslides and flash floods as tropical storm Seniang (international name Jangmi) slowly crossed the southern and central Philippines, dumping heavy rain for a second day on Tuesday, officials said.
Rivers burst their banks and submerged villages in floods up to “neck-deep” while hillsides crashed onto homes and highways, officials said.
Some residents in vulnerable areas ignored evacuation warnings, Stephany Uy-Tan, mayor of the town of Catbalogan in Samar province, told DZMM radio.
“The rains were really strong and people thought the storm won’t be too strong based on the news,” she said.
Twelve people were killed after a landslide buried two vans on a mountainside highway in Catbalogan, she said.
“Rescuers report hearing voices from the rubble,” she said.
Jangmi, which was forecast to bring up to 15 millimeters (0.6 inches) of rain per hour, barreled through fishing and tourist areas on Tuesday, a day after it smashed into the mountainous southeastern region on Mindanao island.
Thousands were evacuated ahead of the storm’s arrival, with most expected to be sent home later Tuesday as flood waters start to recede, officials said.
Jangmi’s 65-kilometer (40-mile) per hour wind gusts were weak compared to the last storm to traverse the central region earlier this month, Hagupit, which had winds of up to 210 kilometers per hour.
“We are focused on floods and landslides because, while the storm’s winds are weak, it will bring heavy rain,” national civil defense chief Alexander Pama told DZMM radio.
Five people were killed after a landslide buried a house in the town of Tanauan in Leyte province, the region’s civil defense spokeswoman Blanche Gobenciong told AFP.
Eight people including three eight-year-old children drowned after raging floodwaters washed away their shanty homes in the coastal town of Ronda in Cebu province, regional civil defense officer Lemuel Tabada told AFP.
Two teenage boys, meanwhile, died from electrocution while wading through floodwaters at Loon in Bohol province, said Allen Cabaron from the same civil defense office.
On Monday at least three people were killed after Jangmi, known locally as Seniang, slammed into southeastern provinces, triggering floods and landslides.
Up to 14,000 people were evacuated in Surigao del Sur on Mindanao, where Jangmi first hit. They will be sent home on Tuesday as floodwaters recede, Governor Johnny Pimentel told AFP.
Ten flights to and from the affected areas on Tuesday were cancelled.
Jangmi will be out of the central region after midnight Wednesday before brushing the southern tip of Palawan island on its way out of the country on Thursday, according to the state weather bureau.
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.