Tropical storm leaves 54 dead as it exits Philippines

Tropical storm leaves 54 dead as it exits Philippines
Residents paddle on a small boat to reach their homes in floodwaters brought on by heavy rains from tropical storm Jangmi, locally called Seniang, in Palo town, Samar province December 30, 2014.

MANILA - Tropical storm Jiangmi exited the Philippines Thursday, leaving at least 54 dead and 13 missing from floods and landslides as officials said greater measures could have been taken to prepare for the deluge.

The storm's death toll was nearly triple that of the last major storm to hit the country, Super Typhoon Hagupit, earlier this month. That storm wreaked less havoc than expected thanks to timely precautionary measures.

Civil defence chief Alexander Pama admitted Thursday that more frequent warnings could have been aired in broadcast media.

"Probably we did not put (enough warnings) out in the media," he told DZMM radio.

However, he said, some people had ignored the warnings that were given and refused to leave their homes or had gone out to sea despite the storm.

"Maybe this will drive home the point to our countrymen that things are different now. Maybe now, when people are asked to evacuate, they will not resist," he said.

Jiangmi, which packed winds of 80 kilometres (50 miles) per hour, hit the southern and central Philippines earlier this week, affecting areas that were once untouched by the frequent weather disturbances that batter the country.

The storm affected more than 120,000 people, more than 80,000 of whom were evacuated.

The Philippines is battered by about 20 storms every year, many of them deadly.

Last year Super Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest ever to hit the country, left 7,350 people dead or missing in central regions as it stirred up tsunami-like waves, wiping out entire towns.

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