At least 30 people were killed in landslides and flash floods as tropical storm Seniang (international name: Jangmi) slowly crossed Northern Mindanao and the Visayas, dumping heavy rain for a second day on Tuesday, officials said.
Government officials also reported of rivers bursting its banks and submerging villages in floods up to “neck-deep” while hillsides crashed onto homes and highways.
As of 5:30 pm Tuesday, 15 were reported dead in Leyte, 1 in Cebu, 2 in Bohol and 4 in Catbalogan City.
In Cebu, Regional Civil Defense Officer Allen Cabaron told the Agence France Presse that an 8-year-old girl drowned in Ronda town after the shanty she was staying in was washed away by floodwaters. At least six persons who were with her remain missing.
Cabaron also reported the deaths of two boys in Bohol province. The two, who are yet to be identified, were electrocuted.
In Leyte, Department of Health Assistant Regional Director Paula Paz Sydiongco confirmed that 6 persons, including Limasawa Police Chief Richard Castañares and some church workers, are missing. They were reportedly on board a motorized boat to Limasawa Island but failed to reach their destination.
Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman assured local government units of help, adding that a standby fund amounting to P417 million is in place for the relief operations for those affected by the storm.
In Lanao del Sur, at least 10 houses were destroyed as officials say people were caught unaware of the flashfloods.
Negros Occidental also reported the displacement of more than 18,000 individuals
Storm Seniang, which carried only a speed of 60 kph, dumped “heavy to intense” rains in many areas in the Visayas and Mindanao, prompting the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) to issue a red rainfall warning in some places.
The storm is projected to hit Palawan today and to exit the Philippine area of responsibility by Thursday.
Close to 4,000 passengers in Mindanao and Visayas seaports were also reported stranded as the Philippine Coast Guard refused to give clearance to passenger vessels.
Director Sydiongco, who quoted health field workers, said the retrieval of those who died in the landslides in Catbalogan City are still on-going.
Catbalogan City Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan said some residents in dangerous areas did not heed evacuation warnings because “people thought the storm will not be too strong based on the news.”
She confirmed that a landslide buried two vans on a mountainside highway in the city.
“Rescuers report hearing voices from the rubble,” she said.
Boulders reportedly tumbled down swiftly on two passenger vans traveling along a road in Barangay Mercedes, Catbalogan. The landslide also reportedly buried some houses nearby.
As of Tuesday noon, authorities have identified the casualties as Joyce Uy, 7; Jacel Giray, 11; Alaiza Lozada, 12; and Jenefa Jumedia, 3 – all of Catbalogan.
Director Sydiongco also confirmed the admission of at least 12 persons at the Samar Provincial Hospital due to landslide-related injuries.
In Tanauan town, a family was buried by a landslide in Barangay Cabuynan. The fatalities were Merlie Custodio, 51; daughter Mary Joy, 22; son Vicente, 10; grandson Mark Glener, 1; and her sister Sarah Modesto.
In Mahaplag, Leyte, a family of four died when mud and rocks buried a house late Monday night in Barangay Polahongon. Killed were Edilberto Dedal, 42; his wife Lolita, 41; son Junel, 13; and daughter Emily, 11.
Movement of soils and rocks on Monday also killed Corazon Desto, 54 of Hipusngo village in Baybay City, Leyte.
Several highways in Leyte were no longer passable due to flooding and landslide, said Arvin Monge, coordinator of the Leyte provincial disaster risk reduction and management council.
Monge reported that massive flooding have been reported in Palo, Tanauan, San Miguel, Dagami, Mahaplag, and Burauen.
“We have already raised flood alert level 3 in Leyte since Monday afternoon due to heavy downpour,” he said.
Storm Seniang, which was forecast to bring up to 15 millimetres (0.6 inches) of rain per hour, barreled through fishing and tourist areas on Tuesday, with about 1,700 people being evacuated ahead of its arrival.
Up to 14,000 people were evacuated in Surigao del Sur, where Seniang first hit on Monday. Gov. Johnny Pimentel said the evacuees will be sent home on Tuesday as floodwaters recede.
The Philippines is battered by about 20 storms every year, many of them deadly.
Early this month super typhoon Ruby left 18 people dead after it lashed the Visayas provinces with 210-kilometre (130 miles) per hour winds.
Last year super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the strongest ever recorded in the world, left 7,350 people dead or missing in the same region as it stirred up tsunami-like waves, wiping out entire towns.