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'Urduja' batters Visayas: 77,000 flee

FIVE people, including a two-year-old child, died while  at least 77,000 remained missing as Tropical Storm 'Urduja' (international name Kai-Tak) cut a swathe of destruction in Leyte and Samar when it hit land at dawn Saturday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

Meanwhile, 11,101 travelers, 1,322 rolling cargoes, 52 vessels and 33 motor bancas have been stranded in ports in Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western and Eastern Visayas, and the National Capital Region, officials said. 

A total 8,831 families were preemptively evacuated to 141 evacuation centers.

Urduja, packing gusts of up to 100 kilometers an hour, was poised to smash into the north of the country’s third-largest island Samar overnight Saturday before slicing across the central Philippines, weather forecasters said.

More than 38,000 people have moved to evacuation camps, local officials said, after days of heavy rain unleashed by the approaching cyclone caused floods and landslides on Samar and nearby Leyte island.

UNDER THE WATER, LITERALLY.  Floodwaters inundate streets in Calbayog, Samar (top left) after Tropical Storm 'Urduja' barrels through the central Philippines, particularly Samar and Leyte, with 11,101 travelers (top right) while villagers in Calingatngan in Borongan in eastern Samar wade through thigh-deep floodwaters Saturday.  Five people, including a two-year-old child, died while tens of thousands remained missing, according to officials.  AFP
These islands, with a combined population of about 4.5 million, had borne the brunt of Super Typhoon 'Yolanda' (international Haiyan) four years ago, which left more than 7,350 peoplea dead or missing.

Ferry services on the two islands remain suspended due to rough seas, with three fishermen also missing despite government warnings against sailing, the region’s civil defense office said.

A baby girl and a woman were also injured in landslides near Tacloban, Leyte’s largest city, it said in a report.

The state weather agency said more heavy rain was expected in the eastern Philippines in the coming hours, warning of flooding in low-lying areas and landslides in the uplands.

About 20 typhoons or weaker storms either make landfall in the Philippines or reach its waters each year, bringing annual misery and helping to keep millions in perennial poverty.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, in its latest weather bulletin, said Urduja continued to move westward closer to the northern-eastern Samar area and was expected to make landfall on Saturday.

Tropical cyclone warning Signal No. 2 has been hoisted over the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate including Burias, Ticao Islands, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, Biliran, and Leyte.

TCWS no. 1 was raised over Southern Quezon, Marinduque, Romblon, Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, Guimaras, Negros Occidental, Northern Negros Oriental, Cebu, Northern Bohol, Southern Leyte and Dinagat Islands. 

Topics: Typhoon Urduja
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