Christmas Storm Becomes Second Deadliest to Hit Philippines in 2018

(Bloomberg) -- Tropical Storm Usman, which entered the Philippines on Christmas Day, emerged as the deadliest weather disaster for the country this year following Typhoon Mangkhut in September.

Usman, a slow-moving storm with winds of up to 55 kilometers (34 miles) an hour, killed at least 61 people as it triggered floods and landslides and forced thousands to flee to safer grounds.

The storm has displaced at least 17,000 people in the Bicol region in the southern part of the Philippines’ main Luzon island. At least 57 people died in Bicol, where the nearly perfect cone of Mayon Volcano is located. Many of those who perished were due to landslides and floods, the region’s civil defense office said in a report.

Christmas Storm Becomes Second Deadliest to Hit Philippines in 2018

Another 18 people are still missing, the national disaster-monitoring agency said. More than 6,600 people were stranded in various ports, while Cebu Air Inc. and Philippine Airlines Inc. canceled more than a dozen flights from Dec. 27 to Dec. 30.

Usman hit Philippine waters on Dec. 25 and gathered strength as it moved slowly before making landfall in the central province of Eastern Samar. While the storm has been downgraded to a low-pressure system, monsoon rain may still trigger floods and landslides, the weather bureau said. About 20 cyclones pass through disaster-prone Philippines each year.

Mangkhut, the strongest storm to hit in 2018, made landfall in the Philippines before sweeping through Hong Kong and other parts of South China, where it forced Macau’s casinos to be suspended for the first time.

Over the weekend, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake also struck off the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, where people living in coastal areas were asked to move inland.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.