MANILA, May 8, 2011 (AFP) - Tropical storm Aere slammed into the eastern Philippine coast on Sunday, bringing heavy rains and landslides that have so far killed three people and forced thousands to leave their homes.
The Philippines' state weather bureau said Aere made landfall over the island of Catanduanes before noon, and was expected to move north-westerly for the next 24 hours.
Three people were killed when heavy rains triggered a landslide in the province of Camarines Sur in the eastern Bicol region, where local officials scrambled to launch rescue and relief missions.
"The provincial road going to the (area) is not passable due to flooding," said Inspector Ayn Natuel, a spokesman at the Bicol regional police headquarters.
Aere, the first major weather disturbance of the year, hit Catanduanes, an island of about 250,000 people, with maximum winds of 85 kilometres (52.8 miles) per hour at its centre and gusts of up to 100 kilometres per hour.
Storm alert warnings had been raised over at least 12 provinces in the main island of Luzon and the eastern Bicol, the civil defence office in Manila said.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said more than 70,000 people were evacuated to safer grounds as a preemptive measure in the eastern Bicol and in central Visayas regions.
Landslides were also reported near Ormoc city in the central Philippines, while there was widespread flooding in many areas, it said.
More than 1,400 commuters meanwhile were stranded in various Bicol ports after the coast guard banned sea travel by inter-island ferries.
At least 38 domestic flights were also cancelled by Manila airport authorities due to the bad weather.
The state weather bureau said Aere was moving at a pace of 17 kilometres an hour and was expected to bring more rains and wreak havoc in the northern parts of Luzon island until Monday.
Public storm alerts were raised in more than 20 provinces, and these areas will have enhanced monsoon rains.
Residents in those areas were "advised to take all the necessary precautions against possible flashfloods and landslides."
"Likewise, those living in coastal areas are alerted against big waves or storm surges generated by this tropical cyclone," the agency said.
In Manila, nine ground staff were injured when lightning struck a plane on the tarmac during a heavy downpour on Saturday night, radio reports said.
Communist insurgents killed five civilians and kidnapped five soldiers in the southern Philippines on Tuesday in the latest of a series of violent acts following the collapse of peace talks, authorities said. …