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Death toll rises to 45 as tropical storm hits Philippines

Rescuers carry a resident to safer grounds as floods rose due to Tropical Storm Nalgae.(Photo by AP)

Tropical Storm Nalgae in the Philippines has killed at least 45 people and injured 33 others, officials said Saturday.

Rafaelito Alejandro, director of the country's civil defense, who announced the death toll also said that at least 14 people are still missing.

The storm, known locally as Paeng, lashed the main island of the Luzon archipelago with winds of up to 95 kilometers per hour (59 mph) after making landfall on the populous island of Catanduanes before sunrise on Friday.

The country's state weather agency said heavy rains from the typhoon are reaching the southern Philippines.

Rescuers are currently focusing on the village of Kusiong, where dozens of bodies were found Friday after flooding and heavy rains.

Flooding was also reported in parts of the central Philippines, but no casualties were reported in those areas.

Nalgae could hit the capital Manila, a sprawling metropolis of more than 13 million people, with heavy rain, the state weather agency said.

"Widespread flooding and landslides from the rain are expected," the report added, while there is a "low to moderate risk of storm surge" or huge waves in coastal areas.

"Based on our projections, this one is really strong, so we really prepared for it," Alejandro said, adding that 5,000 rescue teams are on standby.

He also urged residents in the path of the typhoon to stay in their homes before the typhoon exits the South China Sea early Sunday.

"If it's not necessary or important, we should avoid going out today because it's dangerous and could bring you harm," Alejandro said.

The Office of Civil Defense said that more than 7,000 people had been evacuated from these areas before the storm reached land.

The Coast Guard has also stopped the movement of hundreds of ships and the travel of thousands of passengers in ports due to rough seas.

The Office of Civil Aviation has also announced that it has suspended more than 100 flights so far.

The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 major storms each year that kill hundreds of people and keep vast regions in perpetual poverty.

Scientists have warned that such storms, which also kill livestock and destroy key infrastructure, are becoming more powerful as the world gets warmer because of climate change.

In recent years, due to the destruction of forests by human hands, sudden floods with mud from the mountain slopes have been one of the deadliest dangers caused by typhoons in the Philippines.

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