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Storm leaves 6 dead in central Philippines


MANILA, Philippines >> A late season storm has left at least six people dead in separate incidents in the central Philippines but has spared a southern region that was devastated by a typhoon that killed more than 1,000 people weeks earlier.

The national disaster agency said in a report today that three people died when a tree fell on their house in Eastern Samar province, where Tropical Storm Wukong made landfall on Christmas Day. Three others drowned in Iloilo province.

Civil Defense chief Benito Ramos said disaster officials were still investigating the death of man earlier reported killed in a landslide. He said it’s possible that the man actually was beaten up and pushed off a ravine.

The storm has weakened into a low pressure area over the South China Sea off Palawan province, southwest of Manila.

“The worst is over,” Ramos said.

Officials said heavy rain on mountains surrounding Kalibo, the capital of Aklan province on Panay Island, caused a river running through the city to overflow and triggered a flash flood late Wednesday. No casualties were reported but many houses near the river appeared to suffer damage, said Efren Trinidad, executive assistant to Kalibo Mayor William Lachica.

The flooding was aggravated by the high tide, preventing the river from emptying most of the water into the sea, Trinidad said. He said canals were blocked by heavy silt brought down from the nearby hills.

The city is the gateway to the famous island resort of Boracay, which was not affected.

“As we were conducting rescue operations, flights were coming in because the weather was fine. The moon was shining while we were being flooded. It was ironic,” Trinidad said, explaining that rains fell mostly over the mountains.

It was the 17th storm to hit the country this year.

Typhoon Bopha lashed the main southern island of Mindanao early this month, killing at least 1,067 people and leaving more than 800 missing. It triggered flash floods laden with mud, boulders and uprooted trees that rampaged through farming communities, wiping out entire villages, according to the Civil Defense Office.

It reported Thursday that Bopha caused nearly 37 billion pesos ($902 million) in damage to agriculture, private property and infrastructure, making it one of the worst storms to hit the country in recent years.

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