Philippines Storm Death Toll Rises

MANILA (AFP) – The death toll in the Philippines from tropical storm Nock-ten climbed to 41 on Friday, as millions of people across the main island of Luzon mopped up after a week of heavy rain, officials said.

Food and medical supplies were being sent by land to hard-hit areas, especially Bicol on the southeastern tip of Luzon as widespread floods ebbed, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

Bicol officials have asked the national government for help in speeding up search and rescue work, and aid delivery, said its executive director Benito Ramos.

“Aircraft (are) on standby, ready to take off as soon as the weather becomes safe for flying,” Ramos said.

Nock-ten, named after a Laotian bird, blew out into the South China Sea on Thursday after causing floods and landslides, heading towards China’s Hainan island.

Ramos’ office said Friday rescuers had found six more dead in Bicol and in the mountainous north over the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 41.

Twenty-four people remained missing, it said, mostly fishermen and crews of small vessels toppled by huge waves at sea.

Meanwhile, the state weather service said it was closely monitoring another storm, Muifa, churning east of Bicol with peak winds of 75 kilometres (45 miles) an hour.

But it said Muifa, named after a Chinese flower, was still too far to affect any part of the country and could still veer north and away from land.

An average of 20 storms and typhoons, many of them deadly, hit the Philippines annually. Nock-ten was the 10th this year.

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