Death toll rises to 33 after Typhoon Nesat hits the Philippines

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (BNO NEWS) — The death toll rose to at least 33 on late Wednesday evening after powerful Typhoon Nesat made landfall in the northern region of the Philippines a day earlier, officials said. Dozens remain missing.

Benito Ramos, the Executive Director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), confirmed the number of deaths due to the typhoon. Most of the fatalities were reported in the provinces of Occidental Mindoro and Bulacan although the death toll is expected to at least double as rescue work continues.

More than 110,000 people throughout the affected regions have been evacuated, many of whom fled before the storm arrived when evacuation orders were issued. Evacuations centers are currently housing more than 17,000 families which account for almost 80,000 people.

In the city of Valenzuela, which is part of Metro Manila, four people were killed when they were hit by a collapsing wall. Three others drowned in Malabon while a 29-year-old person was killed by a falling tree in Caloocan City. Both Malabon and Caloocan are also part of Metro Manila.

Three people drowned in Occidental Mindoro province while two others were electrocuted. Falling trees claimed the lives of four young children in Bulacan province while a 7-year-old child died of electrocution in the same province.

In addition to fatalities, at least 31 people have been reported injured although the actual number is believed to be higher. As of late Wednesday, 41 people were reported missing throughout the affected area, including 22 fishermen in Camarines Norte province.

The initial cost of damages to properties has meanwhile amounted to at least Ph 985 million ($22.7 million) with almost 5,000 houses damaged or destroyed in several regions of the country. The harsh weather has also damaged the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines transmission facilities, causing power outages in 11 provinces. Benguet Province has suffered a nearly complete power loss while Nueva Vizcaya, Zambales, Isabela, and Nueva Ecija provinces have partly lost power.

Nesat, which is known locally as Pedring, has intensified as it continues to move away from the Philippines. As of 4 p.m. local time on Wednesday, the center of Nesat was located about 520 kilometers (320 miles) west-northwest of Baguio City with maximum sustained winds of 130 kilometers (81 miles) per hour near the center and gusts of up to 160 kilometers (100 miles) per hour.

The typhoon is expected to continue moving west-northwest at a speed near 19 kilometers (12 miles) per hour as it approaches Taiwan and China where evacuations have been ordered and thousands of boats ordered to return to ports.

Nesat first emerged as an area of low pressure east-southeast of Palau on September 21 before strengthening into a typhoon as it drifted towards the Philippines. It is the 17th named storm, the 11th severe tropical storm and the 8th typhoon of the 2011 Pacific typhoon season. The season runs throughout 2011, with most tropical cyclones forming between May and November.

In July, the City University of Hong Kong predicted a total number of 31 tropical cyclones to form in the western North Pacific, of which 27 would become tropical storms and 17 which would further grow into a typhoon.

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