Philippines storm leaves at least 8 dead

A tropical storm has unleashed floods and landslides that have left at least seven people dead in the northeastern Philippine province of Albay.
Filipino women carry their babies under the rain as they cross a street in suburban Manila on Tuesday. Tropical storm Nock-ten, locally named Juaning, has entered the country, causing suspension of classes up to the high-school level in some parts of the country, including the capital. (Aaron Favila/Associated Press)

A slow-moving storm unleashed massive floods and landslides Tuesday in the northeastern Philippines, killing at least eight people with 18 missing and several towns isolated.

Gov. Joey Salceda said three children died in a landslide in a mountainside village in his Albay province's Polangui town, while two men were pinned to death by a fallen coconut tree in Pio Duran town. Two other people died in storm-related accidents in the hard-hit province.

A man was electrocuted by a cable from a damaged power post in eastern Catanduanes province, officials said.

Waist-deep floodwaters swamped the houses of about half a million people, or nearly half of Albay's population, after

Tropical storm Nock-ten set off pounding rains overnight and forced many to flee to safer areas, including churches and village halls, Salceda said.

He said that four men were reported missing after the storm flooded and isolated many of Albay's 15 farming towns and three cities.

Fourteen other mostly fishermen also were reported missing in the nearby provinces of Catanduanes and Quezon, said Benito Ramos, administrator of the Office of Civil Defence.

"Many of our towns seemed like islands. They were isolated from each other," Salceda told The Associated Press by telephone from the provincial capital of Legazpi, where he was overseeing rescue efforts for stranded villagers.

Salceda said the storm caused power outages and canceled classes.

Forecasters said Nock-ten was packing sustained winds of 75 kilometres per hour and gusts of 90 km/h off eastern Camarines Norte province. It dumped heavy rains as it moved slowly toward Luzon's eastern coast.

Regional disaster-response official Raffy Alejandro said the storm inundated seven towns of Camarines Sur in the province's worst flooding in five years.

Army troops and coast guard personnel planned to bring seven rubber boats to rescue some villagers trapped on roofs but a key highway was blocked by floodwaters and mudflows from Albay's Mayon volcano, Alejandro said.

Alejandro said his typhoon-prone region did not have even one helicopter for rescue operations. The air force pulled out their aircraft from the area for unspecified reasons a few months ago despite his appeal for at least two standby choppers during the typhoon season that started in June, Alejandro said.

Nock-ten, a Laotian word for bird, is the 10th of about 21 typhoons and storms expected to lash the Philippines this year.