Tropical storm lashes Philippines

Tropical storm Aere has lashed the north-eastern Philippines, killing at least nine people and forcing more than 100,000 villagers to flee from farming towns threatened by landslides.

The storm slammed into Catanduanes province with winds of 53mph and gusts of 62mph. It triggered landslides and floods, disrupted transportation and knocked out power in some towns.

More than 4,700 commuters were stranded in several seaports after ferries suspended trips and roads were closed due to floods and the danger of landslides, officials said. Several domestic flights were cancelled.

A landslide buried a house in Camarines Sur province’s Balatan township at dawn, killing three people, including a baby, regional disaster response director Bernardo Alejandro said.

An elderly woman drowned trying to cross a swollen river in Daraga town in Albay province, and a man was electrocuted in a flooded village in Libon town. Three men drowned in Catanduanes and Leyte provinces, and a driver died in a truck crash during stormy weather in Camarines Sur, officials said.

Authorities helped evacuate villagers in farming communities at the base of the Mayon volcano in Albay, where heavy rain threatened to turn into mudslides. Many more fled their homes as floodwaters began to rise, disaster response officer Jukes Nunez said.

Tons of ash have been deposited on Mayon’s slope from past eruptions, and mudslides caused by a typhoon in 2006 buried entire villages, leaving about 1,600 people dead and missing, Mr Alejandro said.

“The villagers evacuated automatically, without resistance,” he added. “Many still remember that disaster.”

Officials shut off power in at least four flooded Albay towns to avoid accidents. Albay is about 212 miles south east of Manila.

The second storm to batter the country this year is expected to blow north-westward and exit the country later this week, government weather forecaster Juanito Galang said.

Lightning struck a Philippine Airlines plane at Manila’s international airport during a thunderstorm late on Saturday.

The Airbus 320 was not damaged, and the crew and passengers were not harmed, airline spokeswoman Cielo Villaluna said. The airline flew them on another flight to Bangkok as a precaution.

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