68 dead in Philippine storm, thousands displaced

The weather disturbance locally named ‘Usman’ hit the country on Saturday.
The death toll from a storm that struck the Philippines shortly after Christmas rose to 68 with the number of fatalities expected to climb even higher, civil defence officials said on Monday.

Fifty-seven people died in the mountainous Bicol region, southeast of Manila, while 11 were killed in the central island of Samar, mostly due to landslides and drownings, the officials said.

“I am afraid this (death toll) will still go up because there are a lot of areas we still have to clear,” said Claudio Yucot, Bicol civil defence director.

The weather disturbance locally named “Usman” hit the country on Saturday. While it did not have powerful winds it brought heavy rains that caused floods and loosened the soil, triggering landslides in some areas.

Many people failed to take necessary precautions because Usman was not strong enough to be rated as a typhoon under the government’s storm alert system, Yucot said.

People were overconfident because they were on (Christmas) vacation mode and there was no tropical cyclone warning,” he told AFP.

Although Usman has since moved westward away from the country, many affected areas were still experiencing seasonal rains, hampering rescue and recovery efforts, he added.

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

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

The most powerful was Super Typhoon Haiyan which left more than 7,360 people dead or missing across the central Philippines in 2013.

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Tough penalty against illegal residents as UAE amnesty ends today

Intensive campaigns will be conducted immediately after the end of the amnesty scheme.
The amnesty that granted illegal residents in the UAE to leave the country without paying fines is ending on Monday, December 31.

The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC) has warned that people that will be caught staying illegally in the country after the end of amnesty period, will face tough punishments including fines, jail sentences and deportation.

The “Protect Yourself by Modifying Your Status” initiative that granted a three-month grace period for illegal residents to modify their status or leave the UAE without facing fines or legal issues started on August 1 until October 31, 2018. But the authority extended the amnesty scheme extended for two additional months until December 31 to avail more time to amnesty seekers who had not availed of the initiative.

After the end of the amnesty period, intensive campaigns will be conducted across the country and those caught violating residence laws will face tough penalties.

According to an earlier report on Khaleej Times, the amnesty centres have registered and issued exit passes to thousands of illegal residents wanting to exit country throughout the amnesty initiative.

Those seeking to rectify their status to remain across the country and look for jobs after being granted a six-month temporary residence visa, have also been dealt with by the Amer and Tasheel centres.

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