Tropical storm hits Philippines, 45,000 people displaced

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dante, a tropical storm in Southeast Asia, has killed at least eleven people and displaced tens of thousands in the Philippines.

Government authorities reported that nine persons were missing after a mudslide resulting from the storm in the coastal village of Maganelles.

Regional disaster official Bernardo Alejandro said that the army and police were using shovels to search for the missing people, who are feared to have been buried in the mudslide. Nine persons, among them two children, have been found. According to Alejandro, the other casualties were a fisherman who drowned off the coast of the Camarines Norte province and a man who attempted to ford a swollen creek and drowned.

Meanwhile, 45,000 people were evacuated into school shelters from their residences near the Mayon volcano, following concerns that mudslides may begin in the area.

According to a government weather meteorologist, Manny Mendoza, the typhoon was estimated to have sustained maximum winds of 95 kilometres per hour, with gusts of up to 120 kph. At last report, it is predicted to be about 110 kilometres off the northeastern coast of the islands.

Typhoons are not rare in the Philippines; an average of 20 storms strike the area every year. This storm, however, was unusual because it hit in the middle of the Philippine summer, while most typhoons appear only after June. Alejandro said that global warming, which may have caused weather patterns to change, could have been the reason for the unusual occurrence.