Tropical Depression Urduja hits Philippines
© AFP PHOTO / ALREN BERONIO
A mother sits with her children on fallen banana trees in Barangay San Mateo Borongan in eastern Samar on December 17, 2017, after Tropical Depression Urduja (International name Kai-Tak) blew through the area.
More than 30 people in the Philippines and have been killed and others are missing after Tropical Storm Kai-Tak drenched the country with heavy rainfall that caused flooding and landslides.

Kai-Tak, known as Urduja in the Philippines, has been crawling slowly westward over the Philippines since late last week. Eastern portions of Visayas, including Samar, have received more than 35 inches of rainfall since Dec. 13.

Sofronio Dacillo Jr., a disaster-response officer, said 26 villagers died and 23 others were missing mostly due to landslides in different areas in the island province of Biliran.

At least seven other people were killed in landslides and floods in four central areas due to Kai-tak.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said it was trying to confirm the reported deaths caused by the storm, which forced more than 89,000 people to flee to emergency shelters. Thousands of Christmas holiday travelers were stranded due to canceled inter-island ferries and flights.


President Rodrigo Duterte said he would visit the storm-hit region.

The now weakened system will continue to move slowly westward away from the Philippines early this week. Locally heavy rain will be possible given the tropical moisture in place.

In addition to Kai-Tak, a separate area of low pressure, dubbed Invest 97W, is located more than 500 miles north of Papua New Guinea. While, at this time, 97W is expected to stay to the east of the Philippines as it moves northwestward and closer to the archipelago, additional moisture could reach the Philippines near and after the Christmas holiday. Steady organization and strengthening are expected.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.