Philippines: At least 45 killed by tropical storm - with fears number of dead could grow

At least 45 people have died following a tropical storm in the Philippines, with officials fearing the death toll could continue to rise.

Manila and nearby towns remain braced for the incoming Tropical Storm Nalgae.

The Southeast Asian nation's disaster agency reduced its death toll to 45 from 72 after checking reports from ground staff, including rescue workers searching for 18 missing persons.

At least 40 died in the southern Maguindanao province where rampaging floodwaters and debris-filled mudslides swept through three towns, and five people died elsewhere.

Residents in the capital's coastal area have been evacuated and many schools have been closed.

The city's cemeteries - which had been expecting an influx of millions of visitors during the All Saints' Day weekend - have also been closed on the orders of Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna-Panga.

The tropical storm, which has seen maximum sustained winds of 60mph (95kph) and gusts of up to 80mph (130kph), has made multiple landfalls in the eastern Philippines on Saturday, including in the province of Camarines Sur.

Flights cancelled amid landslide fears

The state weather agency, in its latest bulletin, warned of widespread flooding and landslides because of heavy and at times torrential rains over the capital region and nearby provinces as Nalgae cuts through the main Luzon island and heads to the South China Sea.

Airlines have cancelled 116 domestic and international flights to and from the Philippines' main gateway. Nearly 7,500 passengers, drivers, and cargo helpers and 107 vessels were stranded in ports, the coast guard said.

Government agencies were giving aid and food packs to affected families, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Twitter.

Coast guard personnel guided residents through chest-deep floods, with rescuers using a monobloc plastic chair and an old refrigerator to carry children and elderly people in the central Leyte province, according to photos shared by the agency.

Possibility of more casualties

"We are not discounting the possibility of more casualties," Cyrus Torrena, provincial administrator of Maguindanao, told DZMM radio station. "But we pray it does not go up significantly."

The Philippines sees an average of 20 tropical storms annually.

In December, category 5 typhoon Rai ravaged central provinces, leaving 407 dead and more than 1,100 injured.