Search and rescue efforts have stepped up as the death toll from landslides and floods that hit the central and southern Philippines rose to at least 56, with 28 others still missing.
Nearly 200 villagers were injured mostly in the landslides in the hard-hit city of Baybay in central Leyte province over the weekend and early Monday, officials said.
Army, police and other rescuers were struggling with mud and unstable heaps of earth and debris to find the missing villagers.
More rescuers and heavy equipment have arrived in the landslide-hit villages in Baybay, with mayor, Jose Carlos Cari saying the weather cleared on Wednesday, allowing the search and rescue work to pick up pace.
“We’re looking for so many more missing people,” Cari said, adding authorities were doing a recount to determine how many villagers were really missing and believed buried in the landslides.
A total of 47 bodies were recovered from landslides that hit six Baybay villages, military and local officials said.
Nine other people drowned elsewhere in floodwaters in four central and southern provinces, they said.
“We are saddened by this dreadful incident that caused an unfortunate loss of lives and destruction of properties,” said army brigade commander Colonel Noel Vestuir, who was helping oversee the search and rescue.
Coast guard, police and firefighters rescued some villagers on Monday in flooded central communities, including some who were trapped on their roofs.
In central Cebu city, schools and work were suspended on Monday and Mayor Michael Rama declared a state of calamity to allow the rapid release of emergency funds.
At least 20 storms and typhoons batter the Philippines each year, mostly during the rainy season that begins around June.
The disaster-prone Southeast Asian nation lies on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, where many of the world’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur. [Dungog Chronicle]
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