TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Severe storms in the central Philippines over the weekend caused flooding and landslides, resulting in a death toll of 57, which is expected to rise.
Rescue operations are still underway in the Bicol region, and throughout the Eastern Visayas, as authorities wait for flood waters to recede from a low pressure area storm that has been dubbed “Usman.”
Many flooded roads and damaged bridges are making the rescue operations difficult, according to reports.
The Philippines Office of Civil Defense reports that 57 deaths had been counted as of Monday, Dec. 31.
Twenty three people have been counted dead in the province of Carmarines Sur, while Camarines Norte has counted six.
The province of Albay has seen 15 people lost to the floods and landslides, along with six people reported dead in Sorosgon, and seven killed in Masbate.
Many more people are currently still missing.
"Most of the (affected) areas are underwater. We are sending troops and rubber boats to rescue families. In some areas the floods have reached the roofs of homes," Claudio Yucot, head of the Bicol region's Office of Civil Defense.
Yucot indicated that the “unusually heavy rains caused by climate change” caught many people off guard in areas that are not generally considered prone to flooding, reports the Philippine News Agency.
AFP reports that the storm has caused over 22,000 people to evacuate from their homes, and that the rainfall had already devastated rice and corn crops in the region.
The northern Philippines is expected to see heavy rain continue into Tuesday.