Rescuers retrieve one of the bodies trapped in a mudslide in Baguio City, north of Manila on September 16, 2018. Typhoon Mangkhut rocked Hong Kong en route to mainland China on September 16, lashing its coastline and sending skyscrapers swaying, after killing at least 30 people in the Philippines and ripping a swathe of destruction through its agricultural heartland.
AFP/JJ Landingin
Typhoon Ompong: Death toll rises to at least 29, thousands evacuated
( - September 16, 2018 - 11:15am

MANILA, Philippines  (Updated 5:20 p.m.) — “Ompong” has left at least 29 dead in its wake, said Presidential Political Affairs Adviser Francis Tolentino, the official tapped by the government as the point person in matters related to the typhoon, with the death toll feared to rise further as rescue and recovery operations continue until Monday.

Tolentino, in a situation briefing on Sunday afternoon, said that death toll on “Ompong” has risen to 29. 

The briefing was held in Tuguegarao City, the capital of Cagayan, with President Rodrigo Duterte and other key government officials in attendance.

An ABS-CBN report on TV Patrol late Sunday afternoon, however, reported a higher death toll of 34 citing Philippine National Police data.

Tolentino said that the numbers include a family in Nueva Vizcaya who were buried by a landslide. Majority of the deaths were due to landslides from the Cordillera region.

Authorities are still searching for 13 missing individuals in Itogon, Benguet; Mountain Province, and parts of Baguio.

“We're now ending the search and rescue operations. By tomorrow the rehabilitation phase should commence. Dapat po mare-restore na 'yung power lines, 'yung tubig dito,” the official added.

Tolentino also said: “I already expressed your condolences on your behalf, Mr. President. Halos 29 na po tayo ngayon. At nakikiramay po tayo dun sa mga nasawi dahil sa landslide.”

“Ompong,” the strongest typhoon in 2018, is barrelling through Hong Kong as of Sunday morning.

Early on Sunday, Tolentino said that 25 have been reported dead, but he fears that numbers would rise as retrieval operations in the typhoon-ravaged areas continue.

Duterte himself has surveyed the areas on Sunday afternoon.

At least 20 dead in Cordillera

The PNP, meanwhile, said that according to data it has gathered, at least 20 were killed in the Cordillera Administrative Region.

Data from the PNP showed that six are dead from Baguio, seven from Benguet, six from Mountain Province and one from Kalinga.

Eight people were also reported missing in Baguio, while five could be not accounted for in Benguet.

At least 20 people have also sustained injuries, according to the PNP data.

NDRRMC: Over 270,000 people affected

Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, in an interview with DZMM, said that initial report stated that six bodies were recovered in a landslide due to rains brought by Typhoon Ompong.

The Baguio City mayor said that number of casualties might rise as rescue and recovery operations continue.

Office of Civil Defense chief Ricardo Jalad said the same thing on Saturday about the death toll.

"As we go forward, this number will go higher," he said.

Domogan said that Baguio City’s disaster risk reduction council started its pre-emptive evacuation as early as Monday, September 10, ahead of the Wednesday entry of the typhoon inside the Philippine area of responsibility, but he lamented that the landslide was not expected.

“Of course, nag-prepare kami pero wala ka magawa sa landslide. Unexpected na mag-landslide. Ito yung problema,” Domogan said.

According to the latest situation report released by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on Sunday noon, over 270,000 people were affected by “Ompong.”

The NDRRMC also said that around P9.04 million worth of financial aid has been extended to affected regions.

State weather bureau PAGASA has lifted all tropical cyclone warning signals on Sunday morning.

READ: 'Ompong,' strongest storm this year, has passed but monsoon rains to continue

PAGASA added that while “Ompong” has left PAR, the typhoon continues to enhance the southwest monsoon or “habagat” that would bring occasional gusty wind and scattered light to moderate to at times heavy rains over Western Visayas, Mimaropa, Ilocos Region, Batangas, Bataan and Zambales. — Kristine Joy Patag

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