MANILA (UPDATE) – At least 28 people died in the Visayas and Mindanao due to tropical storm ''Seniang''.
Most of the fatalities were reported in the Visayas provinces of Cebu and Samar, where Seniang had been dumping rains since Monday evening.
Speaking to dzMM, Catbalogan City, Samar Mayor Stephanie Uy-Tan said 12 people in her city died after a landslide hit Mercedes village. Landslides were also reported in the villages of Bunuanan, Poblacion 13, and San Andres.
Uy-Tan said ten people were rescued, and operations are ongoing to search for more possible survivors. She said a van which got buried under the rubble in Mercedes village had 10 to 14 passengers in it.
"May mga boses pa, so hopefully makuha pa natin," she told dzMM.
The mayor said some parts of the town are inaccessible due to the landslides. She appealed for help from the national government as local authorities struggle to reach isolated residents in dire need of aid.
Floods reaching the roof of single-story houses were also reported in the villages of Canlapwas, Munoz, and San Andres.
In Cebu, 10 people died after ravaging floods triggered by the storm hit the town of Ronda Tuesday morning.
Ronda Mayor Mariano Blanco said the 8 fatalities in his town were from the villages of Tupas and Palanas.
Among the fatalities were a certain Junjun Bahinting and his son Johan. At least 9 residents were also reported missing in Ronda. These include Junjun Bahinting's wife, three other children, and a grandchild.
Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council chief Baltazar Tribunalo Jr., meanwhile, said a man in Alegria town and a child in Moalboal town both drowned after they were swept by raging floods.
Also missing were members of the Caday and Faumilian families.
Blanco said the town of Ronda was caught off guard after flood waters suddenly rose in the largely farming town.
Tropical storm Seniang passed near Cebu on Tuesday morning, as it maintained its wind strength of 65 kilometers per hour near the center.
Speaking to ANC, Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III said his province was informed of the threats posed by the storm, but he said some of his constituents may have underestimated the strength of Seniang.
''Last time, typhoon Ruby hit that part of Cebu, people were evacuated pero walang gaanong nangyari. Siguro there was over-confidence,'' he said.
Apart from the 22 fatalities in Cebu and Samar, two teenage boys were electrocuted while wading through floodwaters in Loon in Bohol province.
In the Mindanao city of Tagum, Davao del Norte a bus skidded off a rain-soaked road late Sunday, leaving one passenger dead and 17 injured, said provincial police chief Senior Superintendent Samuel Gadingan.
In the mountainous town of Monkayo, Compostela Valley, a 65-year-old man drowned as he tried to cross a river, and one person was killed by a tree uprooted by fierce winds in Butuan City, other officials said.
Another man was swept away while collecting coconuts on a riverbank in Compostela town and is still missing, said regional disaster relief official Raul Villocino.
Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto told ANC that the town of Loboc in his province was badly hit by floods, as the Loboc River swelled and the high tide compounded to the flooding problem.
''All efforts now are given to local governments where a state of calamity is declared,'' he said.
Chatto said he also received a report that an 80-year-old man drowned in the town of Baclayon.
In its 2 p.m. weather bulletin, PAGASA said Seniang was spotted 80 kilometers southwest of Iloilo City.
PAGASA said Seniang was over Panay Gulf and was still packing maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers per hour near the center and gusts of up to 80 kph.
Public storm warning signal number 2 remained hoisted over Negros Occidental, Guimaras, Southern Antique, and Southern Iloilo.
PAGASA said these areas should expect winds of 61-100 kph in at least 24 hours.
Under signal number 1 are Palawan, Calamian group of Islands, Cuyo Island, Aklan, Capiz, rest of Antique, rest of Iloilo, southern Cebu, and Negros Oriental.
Areas under signal number should expect winds of 30-60 kph in at least 36 hours, PAGASA said.
PAGASA said Seniang will be 70 kms south Southeast of Puerto Princesa City on Wednesday morning; 360 kms southwest of Puerto Princesa City on Thursday morning; and outside the Philippine area of responsibility on Friday morning.
PAGASA said an estimated rainfall amount of 7.5 – 15 millimeters per hour (moderate - heavy) is expected within the storm's 300-km diameter.
Residents in low-lying and mountainous areas under the storm signals are alerted against possible flash floods and landslides.
Fishermen and those with small sea vessels are advised not to venture out into the seaboards of Luzon, Visayas and the northern and eastern seaboards of Mindanao.
PAGASA added ocean waves may reach up to 5 meters tall.
Up to 14,000 people evacuated in Surigao del Sur, where Seniang first hit on Monday, will be sent home on Tuesday as floodwaters recede, Governor Johnny Pimentel told AFP.
Ten flights to and from the affected areas on Tuesday were cancelled, the Manila airport authority said in a statement.
Seniang will be out of the central region after midnight Wednesday before brushing the southern tip of Palawan island on its way out of the country on Thursday, according to the state-run weather bureau.
The country is battered by around 20 storms every year, many of them deadly.
This month Super Typhoon Hagupit left 18 people dead after it lashed central provinces with 210-kilometer (130 miles) per hour winds.
Last year Super Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest ever to hit land, left 7,350 people dead or missing in the same region as it stirred up tsunami-like waves, wiping out entire towns. – reports from June Perez and Dennis Datu, dzMM; with Agence France-Presse