Philippine storm death toll surges to 68

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Manila - Twenty-six people have been killed in landslides and floods caused by a tropical depression that brought heavy rains over the eastern Philippines, police and emergency officials said Sunday.

The national disaster agency said the weather system was "no longer affecting any part of the country" but forecast light rain for some areas.

At least 17 people were still missing and more than 40,000 left homeless by the storm, civil defence officials said.

The tropical depression weakened into a low-pressure area, but was continuing to bring heavy rains over the eastern provinces, enhanced by a cold front and the northeast monsoon, the weather bureau said.

There were five rubber boats and six trucks deployed to the said areas.

More than 6,600 people were stranded in various ports, while Cebu Air Inc. and Philippine Airlines Inc. cancelled more than a dozen flights from December 27 to December 30.

Each year the Philippines is hit by an average of 20 cyclones
Each year the Philippines is hit by an average of 20 cyclones

"I am afraid this (death toll) will still go up because there are a lot of areas we still have to clear", said Claudio Yucot, Bicol civil defence director.

Storm Usman hit the Bicol region southeast of capital Manila on Saturday.

Each year the Philippines is hit by an average of 20 cyclones causing floods, landslides and other accidents.

In Albay province, he added that three people, including a three-year-old boy, died in a landslide in San Francisco village in Legazpi City.

At least 22 people died from a storm that swept through the central Philippine islands at the weekend, authorities said Sunday, with rescue operations under way in flood inundated communities.

Thousands of travelers were left stranded at airports, seaports and bus terminals after several domestic flights and ferry services were canceled, Reuters reported.

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