Philippines storm death toll rises to 35

MANILA - Tropical storm Nock-ten dumped heavy rains across mountainous regions of the northern Philippines on Thursday, raising fears of more fatalities as the death toll rose to 35, with 25 missing.

Although Nock-ten passed into the South China Sea on Thursday morning, it continued to cause major problems in the remote north after causing a series of deadly landslides and floods across the main island of Luzon this week.

"In the northern regions, it is still raining because of the gale effect of Nock-ten, so it is still dangerous," National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council chief Benito Ramos said.

Nock-ten, which slammed into the east of the country on Tuesday, had claimed 35 lives, with another 25 people unaccounted for, according to Ramos.

The latest recorded fatalities, two policemen and two government workers, were buried by a landslide in the north on Wednesday, Ramos told AFP.

He warned the number of victims could continue to rise as relief workers reached isolated villages in the north that were still being pummelled with rain.

Many of the missing were fishermen who vanished at sea during the storm, Ramos said, expressing fears that they had also died.

"These are subsistence fishermen and they have to feed their families daily so they go out even if there is bad weather," he said.

Meanwhile, nearly 650,000 people remained huddled in evacuation centres after their homes were flooded, according to Ramos.

Most of them are in the Bicol region on the eastern tip of Luzon, which was the worst hit by the storm.

Ramos said the floodwaters in Bicol could take three more days to recede.

Nock-ten, named after a bird from Laos, was the 10th storm to pass by the Philippines this year.

An average of 20 storms and typhoons, many of them deadly, hit the Philippines annually.