1st LD Writethru: Death toll from tropical storm Megi in Philippines rises to 43, 28 still missing

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MANILA, April 12 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from the tropical storm that battered the Philippines over the weekend rose to 43, including the 36 buried by landslides in the central Philippines, authorities said on Monday.

In a report, the Baybay City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office said 36 bodies have been dug up so far from the cascading mud and soil that buried houses in 10 affected villages. The report said over 100 villagers were injured in the landslides and flooding triggered by storm Megi, which hit land on Sunday.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported six storm-related deaths and at least one missing in the central and southern Philippines. The agency tallied 14 deaths in Leyte province landslides so far, but it added that it is verifying the death toll from the massive landslides.

The Philippine National Police also reported one death case due to the storm in Samar province.

Captain Kaharudin Cadil, the Philippine Army Infantry Brigade spokesperson in the region, said retrieval operations continued and at least 27 people were still missing despite the incessant rains in the affected villages.

Storm Megi unleashed floods and set off landslides that came crashing to the homes of mountain villagers in the provinces of Leyte, Southern Leyte, and Biliran since Sunday. Cadil said the landslides damaged roads and a bridge, making it impassable for rescuers and people to reach some of the buried villages.

Soldiers, police officers, and coast guard personnel are helping in the ongoing retrieval operations. Local officials said that the water level in major rivers is slowly receding and is no longer at a critical level.

Megi dumped rains in central Philippine regions, forcing authorities to evacuate thousands of residents to safety. The storm also stranded nearly 10,000 passengers rushing to their hometowns for holiday due to canceled boat rides and flights.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said Megi, which weakened to a tropical depression, "remains almost stationary" over Eastern Samar province and drenched the central Philippine region.

Megi is the first tropical storm this year to hit the Southeast Asian country, which is battered by about 20 typhoons and storms every year. The Philippines archipelago lies on the Pacific typhoon belt, making it one of the world's most disaster-prone countries. Enditem

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