MANILA – Authorities in the Philippines dealing with tropical storm Kai-Tak raised on Sunday the number of deaths to 23, while 26 people were missing due to floods and landslides caused by the adverse weather affecting around 222,000 people in central areas of the island country.
The death toll includes 14 victims in Caibiran, four in Almeria, four in Naval – where 23 people have gone missing – and one in Biliran, which also registered three people missing, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of Biliran said on Sunday.
Biliran governor, Gerry Boy Espina, will ask the authorities on Monday to declare a state of calamity in this eastern province which has a population of 172,000, local broadcaster GMA reported.
Of the total 221,953 people affected, 87,719 have taken shelter in evacuation centers, while 198 are being assisted elsewhere, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.
The storm, known locally as Urduja, has become a depression with sustained winds of 55 kilometers (34 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 90 kph, moving in a south-southeast direction at 15 kph, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.
Despite the storm weakening, heavy rains caused by the weather system have become a danger for the population in the form of floods and landslides, with alerts being issued for Quezon, Batangas, Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and northern parts of the island of Palawan, the westernmost island of Philippines.
At least two bridges and 19 highway stretches have become unusable and 15,534 passengers are stranded in different ports due to ferry and boat cancellations.
Kai-Tak has also grounded 57 domestic flights since Dec. 13, with at least 21 being canceled on Sunday.
PAGASA has said that the depression will hit Palawan on Monday and move off to South China Sea on Tuesday.
Some 15-20 typhoons hit the Philippine archipelago every year during the rainy season which normally starts in June and continues until November.