Philippines storm death toll 'at least 53'
- 31 December 2014
- From the section Asia
At least 53 people have died in flooding and landslides caused by tropical storm Jangmi in the Philippines, disaster officials say.
More than 80,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in a number of central and southern provinces.
Weather warnings had been issued, but officials say some people may have underestimated the situation.
The deaths follow severe flooding in Malaysia, where more than 145,000 people sought refuge in shelters.
Landslides in the central provinces of Samar and Leyte led to the deaths of 29 people alone, the Philippines' Office of Civil Defense said.
The local mayor of Catbalogan, in Samar province, said her town had been taken by surprise by a landslide that killed 19 people.
"We did not expect a deluge. We thought the hill where the landslide hit was tough as rocks," Stephany Uy-Tan told the AFP news agency.
"There was no evacuation, people were just advised to prepare for possible landslides."
But a spokeswoman for the national disaster monitoring agency said people may have "underestimated the situation because it's a tropical depression, not a super typhoon".
"They dismissed it as weak," she said in quotes reported by AFP.
The Philippines is hit by about 20 large storms every year. The death toll from the latest flooding is much higher than that of tropical storm Hagupit, which swept across the country several weeks ago and sparked a mass evacuation effort.
More than 7,000 were killed when Typhoon Haiyan tore through central Philippines in November 2013, which was the most powerful typhoon ever recorded over land.
Heavy rainfall has also hit neighbouring countries, with at least 15 people killed this week in some of Malaysia's worst flooding in decades.
The worst-hit area is in Pahang state where more communities live without power and phone communication, making it difficult for the authorities to reach out to those in need, says the BBC's Malaysia correspondent Jennifer Pak.
The Malaysian government has come under fire for its slow response to the crisis, especially after photos emerged of Prime Minister Najib Razak playing golf with US President Barack Obama at the height of the crisis.