MANILA (AFP) – The death toll from the first storm to batter the disaster-prone Philippines this year has climbed to 40, officials said Sunday, as forecasters warned more heavy rain was on its way.
“Lingling” – a tropical depression – has wreaked havoc across the southern island of Mindanao, affecting more than 580,000 people, 161,000 of whom have been displaced and moved to evacuation centres.
Manila’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council upped the number of dead by three from Friday’s toll, as the state weather bureau said further “moderate to heavy” rains were expected over large areas of Mindanao.
Public storm warning signals have been hoisted in eight provinces on the island which are expected to be hit by 60 kilometre (37 mile) an hour winds over the next 36 hours.
“Tropical depression Agaton is expected to bring moderate to occasionally heavy rains and thunderstorms over Bohol, Siquijor, Northern Mindanao and the rest of the Caraga region,” the bureau said, referring to the storm’s local name.
Office of Civil Defence regional director Liza Mazo said a landslide had blocked the national highway in Agusan, slowing the emergency response.
Roughly 20 storms batter the Philippines every year and many areas on Mindanao’s eastern coast are still recovering from powerful Typhoon Bopha that left 1,900 dead or missing in December 2012.
The storm is also expected to bring some heavy rains and thunderstorms to the country’s central region, where millions remain homeless after Super Typhoon Haiyan cut a swath of destruction in November.
Haiyan, one of the worst natural disasters to hit the Philippines, left nearly 8,000 dead and missing after it triggered giant tsunami-like waves that swallowed entire coastal communities.