16 missing, 51 dead in Philippine bad weather


Manila : Sixteen fishermen were missing Sunday in choppy seas in the Philippines as the death toll from accidents caused by bad weather rose to 51, the Office of Civil Defence said.

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Seven fishermen were rescued from the capsized boat off Pandan town in the eastern province of Catanduanes, according to Benito Ramos, administrator of the Office of Civil Defence.

Ramos said a rescue mission has been launched to search for the 16 missing fishermen.

“We have repeatedly warned fishermen not to set sail amid the bad weather,” he said. “But this group still went out to sea where huge waves battered their boat, causing it to capsize.”

Ramos said the death toll in floods, landslides and other accidents caused by heavy rains and stormy seas since late December has risen to 51 after four more deaths were reported.

The latest fatalities drowned in separate accidents while crossing a swollen river and a spillway in the central province of Negros Oriental. The bodies were recovered Sunday, he said.

More than 1.5 million people have been affected by the bad weather in 25 provinces. Damage to agriculture and property has reached over 1.6 billion pesos ($3.7 million), Ramos added.

He urged residents in the affected provinces to take precautions as the weather bureau warned the rains brought about by a cold front would continue through next month.