POSTED: 2:03 a.m. HST, May 10, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 9:04 a.m. HST, May 10, 2011
MANILA, Philippines >> A tropical storm caused at least 22 deaths in the Philippines but largely spared northern agricultural regions where farmers welcomed the rain, officials said.
Disaster officials had feared Tropical Storm Aere would barrel through provinces during planting season and set off flash floods and landslides. After slamming Catanduanes province Sunday, the storm weakened and just grazed the northeastern seaboard, bringing rain to farmland scorched by the summer heat.
“It’s a welcome relief for the farmers,” regional disaster response official Norma Talosig said by telephone Tuesday from northern Cagayan province, where planting for rice, corn and peanuts has begun.
Still, disaster officials warned villagers to stay away from mountainous areas prone to landslides and from low-lying areas that could be swamped by flash floods, especially in the northernmost province of Batanes. Fishermen and ferry operators at the tip of northern Luzon island were advised to keep their boats ashore.
The weather bureau said Aere was about 118 miles (190 kilometers) northeast of Batanes late Tuesday as it pushed toward southern Japan with sustained winds of 40 miles (65 kilometers) per hour.
Officials in Taiwan have cautioned residents in the eastern and southern parts of the island of possible torrential rain.
Aere caused at least 22 deaths in the Philippines since Sunday, officials said. A 66-year-old man remained missing in eastern Albay province.
Office of the Civil Defense officer Ronaldo Flores said damage to rice, corn and other crops and livestock was estimated at $2.8 million (117.8 million pesos) in the eastern Bicol region alone.
Nearly 210,000 people were affected by the storm, with 6,400 housed in evacuation centers.
Aere was the second tropical storm to batter the Philippines this year. About 20 typhoons and storms lash the country annually.