- Rescuers used their hands and shovels to search for survivors of landslides that destroyed villages in the Philippines.
- The death toll from a tropical storm rose to 42.
- At least 27 people are missing after the landslides and the death toll is expected to rise.
Rescuers hampered by mud and rain on Tuesday used their bare hands and shovels to search for survivors of landslides that slammed into villages in the central Philippines as the death toll from Tropical Storm Megi rose increased to 42.
Tens of thousands of people fled their homes as the storm battered the disaster-prone region in recent days, dumping heavy rains that flooded homes, crippled roads and knocked out electricity.
At least 36 people have died and 27 are missing after landslides hit several villages around Baybay City in Leyte province – the hardest hit by the storm – local authorities said. Just over 100 people were injured.
Coastguard personnel evacuate local residents from their flooded homes in the town of Panitan, Capiz province, as heavy rain from Tropical Storm Megi flooded the area. (AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD)
Three people were also killed in the central province of Negros Oriental and three on the main southern island of Mindanao, according to the national disaster agency.
The death toll is expected to rise.
Rescue efforts continued under the cover of nightfall on Tuesday in the village of Pilar, Leyte province, after an avalanche of mud and earth swept away most of the homes of around 400 residents in the sea.
“The first estimate is that 80% of the houses have been swept away,” Reinz Corbeza, a civil defense official in the municipality of Abuyog – of which Pilar is a part – told AFP.
He said around 50 people survived or were rescued by boat after roads to Pilar were cut off by landslides.
Most of the confirmed deaths in Leyte have occurred in the mountainous village of Mailhi, near Baybay City, where 14 bodies were found after a ‘mudburst’ buried homes, the captain told AFP. of the Kaharudin Cadil army.
“It’s supposed to be the dry season, but maybe climate change has upset that,” said Marissa Miguel Cano, public information officer for Baybay City.
This aerial photo shows the collapsed mountainside and buried houses of Bunga Village, Baybay City, Leyte Province, southern Philippines. (Bobbie ALOTA / AFP)
Cano said the hilly area of corn, rice and coconut farms was prone to landslides, but they were generally small and not fatal.
‘Mudflash’ burying houses
Drone footage showed a large expanse of mud that had rolled down a hillside of coconut trees and engulfed Bunga, another community devastated by the storm.
At least seven people had been killed and 21 villagers were missing in Bunga, which was reduced to a few roofs digging in the mud.
Apple Sheena Bayno was forced to flee after her home in Baybay City was flooded. She told AFP that her family was still recovering from a super typhoon in December.
“We are still fixing our house and yet it is being hit again,” she said.
Rescue efforts also focused on the nearby village of Kantagnos, which an official said was hit by two landslides.
Kantagnos resident Daniel Racaza, 26, said he was asleep when a wave of mud and water swept through the riverside community.
He managed to escape with his boyfriend and 16 relatives, but an aunt was caught in the torrent.
Racaza told AFP by phone from a high school where they are staying:
I only managed to save my cell phone and we have nothing to return.
Some other residents also fled in time or were pulled alive from the mud, but four villagers were confirmed dead and many still fear being trapped.
A video from the Philippine Coast Guard on Facebook showed six rescuers carrying a woman covered in mud on a stretcher, while other victims were brought to safety.
“We are looking for a lot of people, there are 210 homes there,” Baybay Mayor Jose Carlos Cari told local TV station DZMM Teleradyo.
First major storm of 2022
The military joined coastguard, police and fire protection personnel in search and rescue efforts, which were hampered by bad weather
National disaster agency spokesman Mark Timbal said landslides around Baybay City had reached settlements “outside the danger zone”, catching many residents by surprise.
Residents await news from loved ones after a mountainside collapsed. (Bobbie ALOTA / AFP)
Megi is the first major storm to hit the country this year.
Rising seas forced dozens of ports to suspend operations and stranded more than 9,000 people at the start of Holy Week, one of the busiest travel times of the year.
The storm comes four months after Super Typhoon Rai devastated swaths of the archipelago nation, killing more than 400 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
Scientists have long warned that typhoons are getting stronger faster as the world warms due to climate change.
The Philippines – ranked among the nations most vulnerable to its impacts – is hit by an average of 20 storms each year.
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