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Philippine Floods Kill 34 People Before First Storm of 2014 Hits

Jan. 17 (Bloomberg) -- At least 34 people were killed in flooding and landslides in the southern Philippines in the past week, as the national weather service issued the lowest storm alert for several provinces on the southern island of Mindanao.

More than 212,000 people are now inside evacuation centers in Mindanao after 13 landslides and six flooding incidents since Jan. 11, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in a report today. Storm Agaton, with maximum winds of 55 kilometers (35 miles) per hour, was spotted 150 kilometers northeast of Surigao del Sur province at noon today and is forecast to hit Mindanao’s east coast tomorrow, according to the weather service.

The storm is likely to move southwest and may bring heavy rains and thunderstorms over the Visayas region, where Super Typhoon Haiyan killed at least 6,201 people in November, it said. The Philippines, battered by cyclones that form over the Pacific Ocean, is the second most-at-risk nation globally from tropical storms, behind Japan, according to Maplecroft, a research company based in Bath, England.

The Asian Development Bank estimates losses from typhoons to earthquakes average $1.6 billion yearly, the most in Southeast Asia.

“Expect heavy rains in the Visayas and Mindanao at the weekend,” weather forecaster Aldzar Aurelio said in a televised briefing today. “Sea travel is risky over the seaboards of Luzon, Visayas and Caraga region,” he said, adding that the weather may improve by the afternoon of Monday, Jan. 20.

Estimated rainfall is 5 millimeters to 15 millimeters an hour within the 300-kilometer diameter of the storm, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

The Philippines has yet to recover from the damage brought by Haiyan, and the government estimates the cost of reconstruction at 361 billion pesos ($8 billion). The economy may have grown 5.8 percent to 6.5 percent last quarter, higher than earlier estimated, as the impact of the typhoon wasn’t as bad as expected, Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Norman P. Aquino in Manila at naquino1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Clarissa Batino at cbatino@bloomberg.net

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