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Storm Dante leaves 20 dead, displaces thousands

Daraga, Albay - A man uses a shovel do dig his home buried by a landslide in this file picture taken three years ago in the Bicol region. An estimated 20 typhoons batters the eastern Bicol region every year, leading to massive death and destruction
Daraga, Albay - A man uses a shovel do dig his home buried by a landslide in this file picture taken three years ago in the Bicol region. An estimated 20 typhoons batters the eastern Bicol region every year, leading to massive death and destruction (Jason Gutierrez/IRIN)

Tropical storm Dante, which unleashed heavy rains triggering flash floods and landslides, left at least 20 dead and displaced thousands, emergency relief officials said on 4 May.



The storm swirled over Mindoro Island south of Luzon before blowing out into the South China Sea on 2 May. But as it was leaving, a low pressure area gained strength and blew in from the Philippine Sea, hitting the eastern-most island of Catanduanes.



The storm, with winds of up to 95km per hour, was last detected some 270km northeast of Virac in Catanduanes, the state weather bureau said.



The storm dumped rains across large areas in the eastern Bicol region, causing floods and landslides in the provinces of Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Albay, the Office of Civil Defence (OCD) said.



Thousands displaced



Of the 48,465 people displaced from 17 towns, more than 3,000 are now staying in evacuation centres, mostly schools, while the rest are staying with relatives, the OCD reported.



"There were 20 reported deaths and three are still missing due to a landslide in Magallanes [Sorsogon Province]," the agency said, adding that ferry operations in the area remained suspended and highways and thoroughfares were flooded.



Several bridges were also washed away or damaged by the floods, cutting off many areas to traffic.



The central government in Manila immediately ordered relief operations for the affected areas, with the health department tasked to "pre-position drugs and medicines" against common colds and flu to prevent an outbreak in packed evacuation centres, Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said.



He said police and military forces were also helping in the evacuation and search operations, while an airforce aircraft was conducting assessment flights over the affected areas.



"Help is on its way," said Anthony Golez, a spokesman for President Gloria Arrroyo. "We also have to make sure that there is enough surveillance to make sure there is no outbreak of diseases in evacuation centres."



The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical, Astronomical Services Administration said the back-to-back storms came in the middle of the summer season and blamed the strange weather pattern on climate change.



It said it had not yet officially declared summer as over, but warned of more unpredictable and extreme weather patterns.



"This means that the rainy season is almost officially upon us," Pagasa chief weather forecaster Nathaniel Cruz told reporters. "We now have summer with heavy rains.



"This is a sign of climate change in the country," he said, adding that while there may have been rains, some days would remain hot. "We call this an extreme weather condition. Our climate is either very cold and wet or very hot."



Climate change warning


A map of the Philippines showing Luzon Island in the north and Mindanao in the south

Tropical Storm Ketsana affected tens of thousands of families in the Philippine capital Manila and in at least 24 other provinces and cities on the northern island of Luzon
ReliefWeb
A map of the Philippines showing Luzon Island in the north and Mindanao in the south
http://www.reliefweb.int/
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
More than 70 killed in Philippine floods
A map of the Philippines showing Luzon Island in the north and Mindanao in the south


Photo: ReliefWeb
The storm hit south of Luzon island before blowing out into the Philippine Sea

The Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) in its report, The Economics of Climate Change in Southeast Asia, released on 27 April, stated that the region was among the "most vulnerable" to climate change, because of its long coastlines and heavy reliance on agriculture, natural resources and forestry.



It noted that there had been an increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including heat waves, droughts, floods and tropical cyclones in recent decades. Climate change, it said, was exacerbating water shortages, constraining food production while also increasing health risks.



"The worst is yet to come. Under a high emissions scenario, the annual mean temperature in the four countries of Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam is projected to rise 4.8 degrees Celsius by 2100 from the 1990 level," the ADB study said, adding that rising global waters could also have "dire consequences for the region".



It warned that these four Southeast Asian countries could lose about 6.7 percent of their combined gross domestic product each year by 2100 to costs related to climate change if governments continued with their "business as usual" approach.



"Combating climate change requires urgent action on both adaptation and mitigation - there is no time for delay," the study said.



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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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