3 dead, 77,000 flee as storm pounds Philippines

Villagers wade through a flooded street in Brgy Calingatngan, Philippine, on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 16 December 2017
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3 dead, 77,000 flee as storm pounds Philippines

TACLOBAN: At least three people were killed and tens of thousands were driven from their homes by floods as Tropical Storm Kai-Tak pounded the eastern Philippines on Saturday, cutting off power and triggering landslides, officials said.
Kai-Tak, packing gusts of up to 110 km/per hour, hit the country’s third-largest island Samar in the afternoon and tore through a region devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan four years ago, the state weather service said.
Local officials reported three deaths on neighboring Leyte island — a two-year-old boy who drowned in the town of Mahaplag, a woman buried by a landslide and another person who fell into a flooded manhole in Ormoc city.
Samar and Leyte, with a combined population of about 4.5 million, had borne the brunt of Haiyan in 2013, which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing.
Bus driver Felix Villaseran, his wife and four children hunkered down in their two-story house in the Leyte city of Tacloban along with 11 relatives whose homes were flooded from incessant rain.
“We have yet to shake off our phobia. I hope we don’t have a repeat of that,” Villaseran, who lost 39 cousins in the Haiyan onslaught, told AFP.
“My missus stockpiled on groceries before the storm hit, but since we also have to feed these three other families we’re now running low on food,” he added.
Military trucks drove through rising floodwaters on Samar and Leyte to rescue trapped residents, with more than 77,000 people now in evacuation centers, local officials said.
Strong winds toppled trees and power pylons, knocking out power throughout the region while floods, small landslides and rock falls blocked roads and buried some homes, local officials and witnesses said.
Farmland in the mainly rural region was also under water, while seven people were injured by landslides and flying objects, the regional civil defense office said in a report.
A spokeswoman for the national government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council told AFP it was trying to confirm reports of two other deaths from landslides and floods on the islands of Biliran and Dinagat.
“It was like a flashback again for residents of Tacloban city,” its Vice Mayor Sambo Yaokasin told Manila TV ABS-CBN, referring to the Haiyan disaster.
The station broadcast images of flooded streets and corrugated iron roofing sheets flying off homes.
“Nearly half the villages here are flooded,” Marcelo Picardal, vice governor of Eastern Samar province told ABS-CBN in an interview.
Three other people were missing in Ormoc after being swept away by floods on Saturday, city Mayor Richard Gomez told CNN Philippines TV in an interview.
“We need a lot of water and a lot of blankets,” Gomez added, citing widespread flooding that may have contaminated the tap water system of the city of 200,000 people.
The state weather service said more heavy rain was expected in the eastern Philippines in the coming hours with Kai-Tak forecast to slice across the rest of the central Philippines over the weekend.
Ferry services on the storm’s path were suspended due to rough seas, the civil defense office in the area said.
About 20 typhoons or weaker storms either make landfall in the Philippines or reach its waters each year, bringing annual misery and death and consigning millions of survivors to perennial poverty.


Russia’s Vladimir Putin praises Erdogan’s ‘great political authority’ after re-election

Updated 21 min 20 sec ago
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Russia’s Vladimir Putin praises Erdogan’s ‘great political authority’ after re-election

  • Russian president Vladimir Putin on Monday congratulated Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his re-election triumph in a phone call
  • Erdogan — who has dominated Turkey’s politics for the last decade and a half — on Monday won five more years in office

MOSCOW: Russian president Vladimir Putin on Monday congratulated Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his re-election triumph in a phone call, after saying the result showed the Turkish leader’s “great political authority” and mass support.
On the call Putin and Erdogan confirmed their interest in “deepening partnership ties between the two countries,” the Kremlin said, singling out priority projects such as the TurkStream gas pipeline and Turkey’s first nuclear power plant being built by Moscow.
In a telegram earlier Monday, Putin had “stressed that the results of the vote fully speak of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s great political authority (and) mass support of the course conducted under his leadership to solve Turkey’s pressing social and economic tasks (and) strengthen the country’s position in the international arena.”
Erdogan — who has dominated Turkey’s politics for the last decade and a half — on Monday won five more years in office with sweeping new powers after a decisive election victory while the opposition raised questions over the conduct of the polls.
Putin stressed his readiness to continue “close joint work” and dialogue with Erdogan, whose ruling party-led alliance also won an overall majority in parliament, the Kremlin said.
“This is certainly in the interests of the peoples of Russia and Turkey,” the Kremlin said in a statement, praising the “partner-like ties” between the two nations.
Putin himself extended his almost two-decade-long rule by winning a fourth Kremlin term in March at a time of high tension with the West.
Putin and Erdogan — who have both led their post-imperial states out of economic crisis but also into a new era of confrontation with the West — have forged an increasingly close alliance in recent months.
In a sign of the importance of the partnership, Putin went to Turkey during his first trip abroad after winning a historic fourth presidential mandate in March 18 polls.
Turkey and Russia are on opposite sides in Syria, with Moscow remaining the chief ally of President Bashar Assad’s regime and Ankara backing rebels seeking his ouster.
However, they have worked closely in recent months despite their differences to try to achieve a political solution in Syria.
Ankara-Moscow relations were tested by a severe crisis in November 2015 when Turkey shot down a Russian war plane over Syria, a confrontation both sides have since tried to put behind them.