At least 60 dead after storm Usman hits Philippines

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More than 60 people have died after a powerful storm struck the Philippines, with locals reportedly taken by surprise by its strength.

At least 17 people are still missing and more than 40,000 were displaced nationwide due to the storm, the civil defence office said.

The tropical storm brought heavy rain to the Bicol and Eastern Visayas regions, causing massive flooding and landslides, the country's civil defense office said.

Three people drowned in floods in Eastern Samar and the adjacent province of Western Samar, the regional civil defence office said.

Rescue teams were still searching for several missing in the affected areas, emergency officials said.

The most affected provinces like Albay province, Camarines Sur province, Camarines Norte province and Sorsogon province are now placed under a state of calamity.

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Thousands of others were stranded at seaports, airports and bus terminals after dozens of inter-island trips were canceled because of the storm.

Nearly 12,000 people were also evacuated from their homes in the Bicol region after the low-pressure area hit the eastern side of the country on Saturday.

The tropical depression, which has since been downgraded to a low pressure area, left the Philippines on this afternoon.

A cold front and the north-east monsoon were also bringing bad weather over the capital and other parts of the country, which could dampen usually rowdy New Year's Eve celebrations.

NDRRMC Spokesperson Edgar Posadas said majority of the casualties were from the Bicol region which was hit badly by landslides.

An average of 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people and leaving millions in near perpetual poverty.