Philippines typhoon death toll rises to 29

Manila: A typhoon has killed at least 29 people in the Philippines, officials said, as rescue workers reached areas affected by the powerful storm that lashed northern parts of the country on Saturday.

The official designated by President Rodrigo Duterte as coordinator of government activities related to Typhoon Mangkhut, Francis Tolentino, said during a meeting with Cabinet members in Cagayan province that efforts relating to the typhoon were transitioning by Monday from search and rescue to “recovery and rehabilitation.”

Late on Saturday, a massive search and rescue had been undertaken in various parts of northern Luzon, which bore the wrath of Mangkhut’s 170 kilometres per hour winds.

Tolentino said 29 people were confirmed dead, the majority of them from the Cordilleras.

“As I speak, they are still searching for 30 missing individuals in various areas in Itogon, Benguet, Mountain Province, and parts of Baguio,” he said, adding that most of the deaths were caused by landslides amid the continuous heavy rainfall.

During the meeting, an unconfirmed report said there were a number of deaths after the roof of a church in another region collapsed.

“Authorities are still trying to confirm this,” President Duterte said.

Mangkhut is referred to in the Philippines as typhoon “Ompong”.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Mangkhut has affected some 5.7 million people in 1,502 villages in 30 provinces in seven regions including Ilocos, Cagayan, Central Luzon and Metro Manila.

The NDRRMC said 70,183 families or 270,388 people were relocated to safety, of which 39,824 families are in evacuation centres.

“There were no casualties in Isabela, Quirino, Aurora,” Tolentino said, adding that these three provinces had successfully complied with calls for evacuation.

“At 4.30pm on Saturday, after the storm has passed, there was a landslide in Nueva Viscaya in the remote village of Cayapa. Apparently, not everyone complied with the evacuation call. There was selective compliance. In one case, three members of a family including the mother, an infant and a four year old child died in a mudslide. Only the father a three other members of the family survived because they were out of the house and were in the evacuation centre,” Tolentino said.

Tolentino said much of the electricity in the affected provinces had been restored as well as water utilities in certain areas.

The areas affected by Mangkhoot are largely devoted to planting rice and vegetables. According to Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol, damage to agriculture was initially estimated at P6.4 billion (Dh435.22 million).

“The rice sector is expected to make a recovery but the corn sector may lose up to 90 per cent of its standing crops,” he said.


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