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Fatal storms shake Philippines and South Korea

At least 20 people have been killed in the Philippines, and 32 people have dies in South Korea, following flooding and landslides.

Legazpi, Albay province in northeastern Philippines.
Legazpi, Albay province in northeastern Philippines.
Image: /Press Association Images

HEAVY RAINS AND floods battered the northeastern Philippines for a third day today, as the death toll from a slow-moving storm rose to at least 20 with nine others missing.

Waist-deep floodwaters swamped the houses of about half a million people, nearly half of the population of eastern Albay province, after Tropical Storm Nock-ten set off pounding rains since Monday and sent residents to seek shelter in churches and village halls, said Governor Joey Salceda.

Most of the missing are poor fishermen who ventured out to sea despite the stormy weather, Civil Defense Administrator Benito Ramos said.

The storm made landfall Wednesday in northeastern Aurora province with maximum winds of 95 kilometres per hour and gusts of up to 120 kph.

It weakened slightly after hitting land, said forecaster Sonny Pajarilla. It is expected to blow out of the country to the South China Sea by Thursday after cutting through the northern provinces of Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Benguet and La Union, he said.

At least 32 dead in South Korea

Meanwhile, in South Korea, heavy rains sent landslides barreling through the capital and a northern town today, killing at least 32 people, including 10 college students doing volunteer work.

The students died as mud and debris engulfed them as they slept in a resort cabin in Chuncheon, about 110 kilometers northeast of the capital Seoul, said Byun In-soo of the town’s fire station. A married couple and a convenience store owner also died.

About 500 officials and residents worked to rescue people trapped in the mud and wreckage. Twenty-four people were injured and several buildings destroyed, officials said. Witnesses interviewed on television likened the sound of the landslide to a massive explosion or a screaming freight train and described the screaming they heard as buildings were carried away by rivers of mud.

Fatal storms shake Philippines and South Korea
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In southern Seoul, 16 people died when mud crashed through residences at the foot of a mountain, emergency official Kim Jong-seon said. Three others also died after a stream just south of Seoul flooded, Kim said, and 10 people were reported missing throughout the country.

The heavy rain also left about 620 people homeless and flooded 720 houses and about 100 vehicles throughout South Korea, the National Emergency Management Agency said in a statement.

Seoul shut down portions of two major city highways stretching along each side of the main Han River because of high water levels, Kim Ji-hwan, a disaster control official, said.

People in Seoul, where smartphones are ubiquitous, posted dozens of photos on Twitter and Facebook showing inundated streets and mud-covered cars. Many complained online that Seoul had neglected to prepare for the downpours.

- AP

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