The death toll from landslides and floods in the Philippines has risen to 67 and many people are feared missing, as rescue teams dug more bodies with bare hands and backhoes in ravaged villages, officials said.
Most of the deaths from Tropical Storm Magi – the strongest to hit the Southeast Asian archipelago this year – were in the central province of Leyte.
Abuyog Mayor Lemuel Traya said that in the coastal village of Pilar, which is part of the Abuyog municipality, a stream of mud and mud pushed houses into the sea and buried most of the settlements, killing 13 people and almost 150 went missing.
“I have to be honest, we’re not expecting survivors anymore,” Trey told AFP, adding that the attention of emergency personnel was now focused on the daunting task of getting the bodies.
He said around 250 people were in evacuation centers after they were rescued by boats after roads were cut by a landslide.
Many villagers were also in the hospital.
A “helicopter” rumble alerted 22-year-old Ara Mai Canuto of a landslide on her way to her family’s home in Pilar.
She said she tried to push it forward, but was swept overboard and nearly drowned.
“I’ve swallowed dirt, and my ears and nose are full of mud,” Canuto told AFP over the telephone from his hospital bed. His father died and his mother was not found.
The disaster-prone Philippines is regularly ravaged by storms – including one directly struck by Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 – with scientists warning they are becoming more powerful as the world grapples with human-driven climate change. It’s getting hot.
Local officials said Bebe City was also affected by waves of mud that fell on farming settlements over the weekend, killing at least 48 people and injuring more than 100. Twenty-seven are still missing, he said.
Aerial photographs showed a wide stretch of soil that was swept away by a hill of coconut trees and engulfed the village of Bunga, with only a few terraces passing through the now-changed landscape.
“We were told to be on alert because a storm was approaching, but they didn’t tell us directly that we needed to evacuate,” said Loderica Portarcos, 47, a Bunga farmworker who killed 17 relatives and a friend in the landslide. had lost.
Portarcos weathered the heat and humidity as he advised a backhoe operator to excavate three carcasses still in the soft soil that smelled of rotting flesh.
“All of our dead relatives are in the morgue, but they won’t have time to wake up to grieve because the mayor told us they stink,” she said.
‘Many of us died’
According to the National Disaster Agency, three people died in the central province of Negros Oriental and three on the main southern island of Mindanao.
The death toll from Magi is expected to rise as rescue operations switch to extracting bodies.
Abuyog Police Chief Captain James Mark Ruiz said more boats were needed for the victims in the pillar. But it was difficult to reach the shore.
Images posted on Facebook by the Bureau of Fire Protection showed buildings being crushed or overturned by landslides and debris in the water.
“We’re using fiberglass boats and there are steel rods in the sea, so it’s very difficult,” said Abuyog Mayor Traya. It said the ground was unstable and “very risky”.
While Pilar survivor Canuto considers herself lucky to be alive, she says “many of us are dead and many are missing”.
Raising the seas, Magi forced dozens of ports to temporarily suspend operations, stranding thousands at the start of Holy Week, one of the busiest travel periods of the year in the Philippines.
It came four months after Super Typhoon Rai devastated many parts of the country, killing more than 400 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
The Philippines – one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change – is hit by an average of 20 hurricanes each year.