SHAFAQNA – Tropical storm Jiangmi exited the Philippines Thursday, leaving at least 54 dead and 13 missing from floods and landslides as officials admitted that more extensive warnings could have saved more lives. The storm’s death toll was nearly triple that of the last major storm — Super Typhoon Hagupit, which hit the Philippines last month and wreaked less havoc than expected thanks to timely precautionary measures.
Jiangmi, which at one point packed winds of 80 kilometres (50 miles) per hour, weakened into a low pressure area as it moved west into the Sulu Sea with winds of about 30 kilometres per hour, the government weather station said.
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.
He said some people had ignored the warnings and refused to evacuate or went 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 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.