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Storm Kills 3, Displaces Thousands in Philippines


In this photo provided by the Philippine Coast Guard, rescuers evacuate residents to safer ground as floods caused by Tropical Storm Choi-wan hit Maasin City in Southern Leyte province, central Philippines, June 1, 2021.

A tropical storm left at least three people dead and displaced thousands of villagers in the southern and central Philippines, where it triggered floods and landslides, officials said Wednesday.

Forecasters said the storm Choi-wan was blowing off Victoria town in Oriental Mindoro province south of Manila on Wednesday afternoon with sustained winds of 65 kph and gusts of up to 90 kph. It was moving northwestward and may weaken as it blows toward the South China Sea on Thursday, they said.

At least three people died, including a 14-year-old villager who rushed with her father to a riverbank to rescue their farm animals in intense rain but were swept away by strong currents in Norala town in South Cotabato province. The father remains missing, disaster response officials said.

A baby died in a landslide that hit a mountainous town in southern Davao de Oro province and a 71-year-old man drowned in Davao del Sur province, also in the south, officials said.

Coast guard personnel rescued villagers who were trapped in houses engulfed in rising floodwater, including in Southern Leyte province, where they carried 40 residents, including children, in waist-deep waters to a gymnasium.

More than 2,600 people were displaced, mostly by floods, in 18 southern villages, including about 600 villagers who moved to evacuation centers. Thousands more were evacuated Tuesday from towns prone to floods and volcanic mudflows in Albay province, provincial safety official Cedric Daep said.

Officials also suspended work in Albay and ordered shopping malls closed to prevent people from converging and increasing the risk of coronavirus infections, Daep said.

More than 3,000 passengers and cargo handlers were stranded in central and southern seaports after sea travel was suspended by the coast guard due to stormy weather. A small cargo ship laden with sand and gravel was abandoned by its crew when it started to take in water near Albuera town in central Leyte province. The crew was safe, coast guard spokesperson Armand Balilo said.

About 20 tropical storms and typhoons batter the Philippine archipelago each year. The Southeast Asian nation is also located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, a seismically active region where volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur frequently, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.

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