August 21st, 2013
03:32 AM ET

Philippine floods cause chaos in Manila

Heavy rain continued to lash the northern Philippines on Wednesday, a day after flooding put more than half of the Manila region under water.

The relentless monsoon rains, intensified by a tropical storm at sea, have so far led to eight deaths. More than 280,000 people have fled from their homes, authorities said.

The muddy flood waters have swamped roads and buildings, bringing life in many areas to a standstill.

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Filed under: Flooding • Philippines • Weather • World
August 19th, 2013
03:03 AM ET

Death toll 52 in Philippines ferry disaster

Philippine navy divers retrieved bodies Monday from inside a ferry that sank last week after colliding with a cargo ship.

The discovery of more victims' remains brought the number of people confirmed dead from the disaster in the southern Philippines to 52, the Philippine Coast Guard said. Another 68 people remain missing and 750 have been rescued, it said.

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August 12th, 2013
03:45 AM ET

1 dead after Typhoon Utor hits Philippines

The world's strongest storm of the year so far plowed across the northern Philippines on Monday, killing at least one person and leaving 20 fishermen missing.

Packing winds as strong as 200 kilometers per hour (124 mph), Typhoon Utor made landfall early Monday on the east coast of the Philippine island of Luzon, damaging hundreds of houses.

"It's the strongest typhoon we've had so far on the planet this year," said CNN International meteorologist Samantha Mohr. "So that gives you some idea of the magnitude of this system."

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Bow cut from U.S. ship stranded on reef
A crane vessel lifts the bow of the USS Guardian on Wednesday. The ship has been trapped on a Philippine reef since January 17.
March 27th, 2013
08:41 AM ET

Bow cut from U.S. ship stranded on reef

The bow of a U.S. Navy warship that grounded on a Philippine reef in January was cut from the rest of the hull on Tuesday, lifted by a massive crane, and dropped on a waiting barge.

"The bow section of the USS Guardian was lifted out of the water around 2:45 p.m.," said Enrico Efren Evangelista, head of the Philippine coast guard Palawan District, according to the official Philippine News Agency.

The removal of the bow of the U.S. Navy minesweeper followed that of the ship's auxiliary engine room, a 200-ton piece that was removed a little more than an hour earlier.

With the removal of the two sections, about 900 tons of the formerly 1,300-ton warship remain on Tubbataha Reef, the news agency reported.

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March 25th, 2013
06:05 AM ET

Exhaustion and joy for freed Australian

After nearly 15 months being held captive by suspected Islamic militants in the southern Philippines, Warren Rodwell is emaciated, exhausted but delighted to be free at last.

Philippine authorities found Rodwell, a 54-year-old Australian, early Saturday in the port city of Pagadian on the island of Mindanao.

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March 8th, 2013
03:10 PM ET

U.N.: Peacekeeper release agreed, but delayed

A U.N. agency has dispatched a team to collect 21 U.N. peacekeepers from Syrian rebels who detained them earlier this week, but the effort has been called off due to darkness, a U.N. spokeswoman says.

The team will try again Saturday, said U.N. Josephine Guerrero, spokeswoman for the U.N.'s peacekeeping agency.

The peacekeepers, identified by the Philippine government as Filipino, were detained in a Syrian village near the Golan Heights on Wednesday. Syrian opposition coalition President Moaz al-Khatib said Thursday that the rebels took the peacekeepers for the peacekeepers' own safety due to fighting there.

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Filed under: Philippines • Syria • United Nations
March 7th, 2013
03:06 AM ET

Philippine clan leader wants truce in Sabah

One of the leaders of a clan from the southern Philippines called for a ceasefire Thursday amid deadly clashes in the Malaysian state of Sabah between armed clan members and Malaysian security forces.

The call for the ceasefire was made at a news conference in Manila by Abraham Idjirani, the spokesman for one of the leaders of the Sultanate of Sulu, a now defunct kingdom in the southern Philippines whose followers arrived in a remote corner of Sabah last month and claimed sovereignty over the area.

After failing to persuade the scores of clan members to leave peacefully, Malaysian security forces launched an offensive using fighter jets and mortar shells on Tuesday. But the clan's leadership said its followers hadn't suffered casualties from the attack.

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March 6th, 2013
04:51 AM ET

Malaysia hunts Filipino intruders on Borneo

A day after launching airstrikes and mortar shells in a remote part of the island of Borneo, Malaysian security forces searched house-to-house Wednesday for gunmen from the Philippines who infiltrated the area last month and clashed with police.

The group of Filipino men is believed to number between 100 and 300.

It arrived three weeks ago on the east coast of the Malaysian state of Sabah, on Borneo, demanding recognition as representatives of an old sultanate that once ruled the area.

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February 16th, 2013
02:41 AM ET

6.2-magnitude earthquake rattles southern Philippine island

A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck Saturday near the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, the state-run Philippines News Agency (PNA) reported.
The temblor hit at 12:37 p.m. local time, 149 kilometers (93 miles) south of Davao, the USGS said.
It struck at a depth of about 98 kilometers. No tsunami warning or watch has been issued.

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World's largest captive crocodile dies
February 11th, 2013
05:42 AM ET

World's largest captive crocodile dies

"So long, Lolong."

That was the phrase echoing around social media on Monday after news emerged the night before that Lolong, the world's largest crocodile in captivity, had died in the southern Philippines.

The outpouring of online shock and grief over the demise of the heavyweight reptile, which was more than 6-meters (20-feet) long, could be considered a little surprising, given suspicions Lolong may have been involved in at least two lethal attacks on people before he was captured in 2011.

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Filed under: Animals • Philippines • wildlife • World
End of the USS Guardian
February 6th, 2013
02:58 PM ET

Navy minesweeper might be on reef until April

Removing a stranded U.S. minesweeper from an environmentally delicate reef off the Philippines may take until April, the state-run Philippines News Agency reported Wednesday, citing the Philippines Coast Guard.

The U.S. Navy is preparing to extract the USS Guardian from the Tubbataha Reef, a Philippine national park and UNESCO World Heritage site where the 224-foot-long ship ran aground on January 17.

The Navy plans to cut the 1,312-ton minesweeper into pieces and then, with the help of two contracted crane ships, lift the pieces and carry them away.

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End of the USS Guardian
February 4th, 2013
11:23 AM ET

Crane barges on way to stricken U.S. warship

One of two crane barges needed by salvage crews to help lift a stranded Navy minesweeper off a reef in the Philippines has arrived and another one is on the way, a Philippine news agency reports.

"The crane barge, Smit Borneo, arrived off Puerto Princesa Sunday morning. Another one, much bigger, is expected to arrive anytime soon," Philippine Coast Guard Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena told the news agency.

The warship USS Guardian ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef on January 17. Waves have battered the vessel since, badly damaging it.

Navy experts say the only way to safely move it off the environmentally sensitive reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is to cut it into pieces and lift those pieces off the reef with heavy cranes.

The U.S. Embassy also is organizing efforts with local authorities for restoration of the reef. The U.S. is offering a $100,000 grant to a Philippine university to "support coral restoration research at Tubbataha Reef," the embassy said in a statement.

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End of the USS Guardian
February 1st, 2013
01:04 PM ET

Navy submits plan for dismantling stranded minesweeper

The U.S. Navy said today it has submitted a plan to the Philippine Coast Guard on how it wants to dismantle the stranded minesweeper USS Guardian.

The warship ran aground on a reef in the Philippines’ Tubbataha Reef on Jan. 17. Waves have battered the vessel since.

Navy salvage experts determined the only way to safely move it off the environmentally sensitive reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was cut it into piece and lift those pieces off the reef with heavy cranes.

"Guardian is badly damaged and with the deteriorating integrity of the ship, the weight involved, and where it is grounded on the reef, dismantling in sections is the only supportable option," a U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman, Capt. Darryn James, said in a statement.

"We have the right team of experienced professionals to conduct this complex operation and to ensure that it is done safely while minimizing damage to the surrounding marine environment."

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End of the USS Guardian
January 28th, 2013
08:03 AM ET

Seawater pumped into U.S. warship

The tanks of a U.S. Navy warship stuck on a Philippine reef have been pumped full of seawater to keep the vessel stable while salvage ships make their way to the site of the grounding, officials said Monday.

Navy-led salvage teams have also removed most of the materials from the minesweeper USS Guardian that could pose environmental problems for Tubbataha Reef, a Philippine national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Those materials include paint, solvents and lubricants, according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

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End of the USS Guardian
January 25th, 2013
09:04 AM ET

Warship will have to be lifted off reef

The U.S Navy minesweeper that grounded on a Philippine reef last week has taken on water and sustained too much damage to be towed off, the Navy says.

"It's got hull penetrations in several places, and there is a significant amount of water inside the ship," Rear Adm. Tom Carney said at a briefing Thursday.

The Navy said it will use ship-borne cranes and heavy-lift vessels to lift the minesweeper, the USS Guardian, off the Tubbataha Reef.

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Navy ship evacuated after running aground
January 18th, 2013
09:12 AM ET

Navy ship evacuated after running aground

The U.S. Navy has evacuated all 79 crew members from a minesweeper that ran aground Thursday on a reef in the Philippines, the Navy's Seventh Fleet said in a statement Friday. Initial efforts to free the Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship at high tide were unsuccessful, and the crew was transferred by small boats to other support ships, the Navy said.

The 224-foot-long,1,312-ton ship is stuck on the Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Sulu Sea, the Navy said.

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December 17th, 2012
07:45 AM ET

Philippine legislators pass birth-control bill

Legislators in the Philippines have passed a birth-control bill that will open the door for free contraceptives and government-funded sex education.

Voting for the legislation was carried live on CNN affiliate ABS-CNN in the Philippines.

The bill was strongly opposed by the Catholic Church. It awaits the signature of President Benigno Aquino III to become law.

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October 4th, 2012
12:07 PM ET

Ex-Philippines president arrested on corruption charges

Police in the Philippines have arrested former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on corruption charges, the state news agency reported Thursday.

Arroyo is at a hospital in Quezon City, police said. On Thursday, officers went to her room, where she was hooked up to an IV to treat hypertension and dehydration.

Police formally arrested her, but she'll remain in the hospital because her health won't allow her to be moved, said senior criminal investigator Jigs Coronel, CNN affiliate ABC-CBS reported.

Police said they've secured her hospital room.

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August 31st, 2012
10:06 AM ET

7.6 quake hits off Philippines

[Updated 10:06 a.m. ET] People in eastern areas of the Philippine island of Mindanao should evacuate to higher ground after a 7.6-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami warning, an official of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said, according to the Philippine News Agency.

"Residents living (in) these areas facing the Pacific Ocean are advised to evacuate to higher places," he said, citing the areas of Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental as particularly vulnerable.

[Updated 9:52 a.m. ET] A tsunami warning has been lifted for Japan, Taiwan and several Pacific islands, but a warning remains for Indonesia and the Philippines, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's tsunami center said Friday.

[Updated 9:50 a.m. ET] The U.S. Geological Survey has revised the magnitude of an earthquake that struck off the coast of the Philippines to 7.6, down from an initial reporting of 7.9, the agency said Friday.

[Posted 9:01 a.m. ET] An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9 has struck off the coast of the Philippines, the U.S. Geological Survey said Friday.

The quake prompted a tsunami warning for parts of Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Guam and other areas, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

"An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicenter within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours," the tsunami warning center said.

The quake, which was about 20 miles deep, struck just before 8:50 p.m., the agency said. Its center was about 65 miles southeast of the town of Guiuan, in the Philippine province of East Samar.

Ed Serrano, the head of security at the Marco Polo Hotel in the city of Davao, about 250 miles south of Guiuan, said he felt the ground shake.

"The quake was very strong and the hotel guests were panicking. Most of them went outside," he said. "But now the situation is under control and we are waiting for official reports on how strong the quake was."

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

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August 8th, 2012
09:27 AM ET

What's behind major flood disasters throughout Asia?

Monsoonal rainfall and a tropical storm cause major flooding in the Philippines. A third typhoon in five days hits China. Weeks of rains and floods have wreaked havoc on parts of Korea.

The recent uptick in tropical activity brings the Western Pacific tropical cyclone season back up to average after a slow start. But several recent flash-flooding events from higher-than-normal seasonal rainfall in southern Japan, as well as North Korea, have left soils full of moisture and vulnerable to additional flooding if typhoons and tropical storms track their way.

This is a very real threat as the Western Pacific tropical season runs year-round, but has a seasonal peak around September, mirroring the tropical Atlantic. We will likely see more flooding disasters around East Asia over the next couple of months as the tropics heat up and cyclones traverse these hard-hit areas from the Philippines all the way to North Korea.

The increased activity always has people wondering: Is this all a coincidence or is something else going on here?

We always say that global warming or climate change does not explain, or cause, specific weather events or disasters. But one of the consequences of climate change, according to climate scientists, is a higher frequency of extreme rainfall events. A warmer climate results in more moisture in the atmosphere from evaporation, and thus, higher rainfall amounts are possible in storms.

Could this be what we are seeing? Perhaps, especially considering we have not seen an increase in the number of tropical storms or typhoons over the past several years, but the number of intense flooding scenarios seem to be in the rise.

Typhoon Haikui slammed into the east coast of China on Wednesday morning, pummeling the area around the business metropolis of Shanghai with heavy wind and rain.

The storm's winds were at "severe typhoon" strength when it made landfall in the province of Zhejiang, about 225 kilometers (140 miles) south of Shanghai, the China Meteorological Administration said. The winds diminished to typhoon strength as Haikui moved inland.

The storm is the third tropical cyclone to make landfall on China's east coast in the past five days, with Typhoon Damrey and Tropical Storm Saola hitting last Friday. The storm threatens to dump heavy rainfall in excess of 150 milimeters (6 inches) on Shanghai, China's most populated city.

Although the storm's winds are expected to weaken as it moves overland, it will continue to dump large amounts of rain on the surrounding area, raising the risk of landslides and flooding.

"The rain is the bigger impact going forward," said CNNI meteorologist Taylor Ward. "We have already had up to 8 inches in some locations."

Ward said another 6 to 10 inches of rain were expected to fall, with "maybe isolated amounts greater."

Fueled by the seasonal monsoon rains and that nearby typhoon, widespread flooding in the Philippines worsened Tuesday, killing at least 11 people, the national disaster agency reported.

A landslide in the Manila suburb of Quezon City buried two houses, leaving nine people dead and four others injured, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center.Three of the dead were children, the state-run Philippines News Agency reported.

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