POSTED: 4:05 a.m. HST, Jul 26, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 5:45 a.m. HST, Jul 26, 2011
MANILA, Philippines >> A slow-moving storm unleashed massive floods and landslides Tuesday in the northeastern Philippines, killing at least 10 people with 10 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. Two other people died in storm-related accidents in the hard-hit province.
Fourteen fishermen who were reported missing at sea after strong wind and waves destroyed their motor boat off Balesin Island in Quezon province survived the ordeal by swimming to shore and were helped to safety by villagers, said Benito Ramos, administrator of the Office of Civil Defense.
“Many of our towns seemed like islands. They were isolated from each other,” Salceda told The Associated Press by telephone from the Albay provincial capital of Legazpi, where he was overseeing rescue efforts for stranded villagers.
Other fatalities included a man electrocuted by a cable from a toppled power post while another drowned in eastern Catanduanes province. A villager suffered a heart attack at the height of the storm in Camarines Sur Province.
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.
Six other people were missing in the stormy weather in nearby provinces, officials said.
Salceda said the storm caused power outages and suspended classes. Authorities canceled several domestic flights and ferry operations, stranding passengers.
Forecasters said Nock-ten was packing sustained winds of 47 miles (75 kilometers) per hour and gusts of 56 mph (90 kph) off eastern Camarines Norte province. It dumped heavy rains as it moved slowly toward Luzon’s eastern coast.
The storm, which has a 310-mile (500-km) -wide cloud band, was expected to blow into eastern Quezon province early Wednesday then barrel through the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga just north of the Philippine capital, where grade and high school classes were canceled, said Undersecretary Graciano Yumul of the government weather agency.
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.