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Death toll from Philippines landslides, floods hits 148

Bobbie Alota - Agence France-Presse
Death toll from Philippines landslides, floods hits 148
An aerial view shows residents walking past destroyed houses in the village of Pilar, Abuyog town, Leyte province on April 14, 2022 day after a landslide struck the village due to heavy rains at the height of tropical Storm Megi.
AFP / Bobbie Alota

ABUYOG, Philippines — The death toll from landslides and flooding in the Philippines triggered by tropical storm Agaton (international name Megi) rose to 148 on Thursday, official figures showed, as more bodies were found in mud-caked villages.

Scores of people are still missing and feared dead after the strongest storm to strike the archipelago nation this year dumped heavy rain over several days, forcing tens of thousands into evacuation centres.

In the central province of Leyte — the worst affected by Agaton — devastating landslides smashed farming and fishing communities, wiping out houses and transforming the landscape.

The disaster-prone region is regularly ravaged by storms — including a direct hit from Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 — with scientists warning they are becoming more powerful as the world gets warmer because of climate change.

Emergency personnel in Abuyog municipality have retrieved dozens of bodies from the coastal village of Pilar, which was destroyed by a landslide on Tuesday.

At least 42 people died in landslides that hit three villages in the municipality, police said. Another person drowned.  

Most of those deaths were in Pilar, with at least 28 bodies brought by boat to a sandy lot near the municipal government building after roads leading to the settlement were cut off by landslides.

More than 100 remained missing, and Abuyog Mayor Lemuel Traya told AFP there was little hope of finding anyone else alive.

An aerial photo showed a wide stretch of mud and earth that had swept down a mountain to the sea, crushing everything in its path.

The wreckage of houses and debris was scattered along the shore.

Bad weather and thick mud had complicated retrieval efforts in Pilar, where the ground was unstable. Searchers were also combing the coastline after some bodies were swept kilometres away by ocean currents.

"This will not end soon, it could go on for days," Traya warned. 

Many of those who died had hiked to higher ground to avoid flash floods, villagers told AFP. 

"It sounded like a helicopter," said Pilar councillor Anacleta Canuto, 44, describing the noise made by the landslide.

Canuto, her husband and their two children survived, but they lost at least nine relatives.

Pilar fisherman Santiago Dahonog, 38, said he rushed into the sea with two siblings and a nephew as the landslide hurtled towards them.

"We got out of the house, ran to the water and started swimming," he told AFP. "I was the only survivor." 

Scores missing in Baybay

Another 101 people were killed and dozens injured in vegetable, rice and coconut-growing villages around Baybay City at the weekend, local authorities said. At least 103 are still missing.

The hardest hit was Kantagnos, where 42 people died and 93 have not been found. 

In the nearby village of Bunga, 17 people perished when sodden soil shot down a hill and slammed into the riverside community. Only a few rooftops are visible in the mud, which has started to smell of rotting flesh. 

Three people also drowned on the main southern island of Mindanao, and one person died in the central province of Iloilo, the national disaster agency said in its latest update.

Another three deaths previously reported in the central province of Negros Oriental were dropped from the tally after they were found to be unrelated to the storm. 

Agaton struck at the beginning of Holy Week, one of the most important holidays in the mainly Catholic nation, when thousands travel to visit relatives.

It came four months after a super typhoon devastated swathes of the country, killing more than 400 and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.

The Philippines — ranked among the most vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change — is hit by an average of 20 storms every year. — with Cecil Morella in Manila

AGATONNEWS

DISASTER

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: April 19, 2022 - 3:30pm

Tropical Depression Agaton (international name Megi) is the first tropical cyclone to enter the Philippines in 2022. Bookmark this page for updates. — Main photo: JMA

April 19, 2022 - 3:30pm

Chinese President Xi Jinping has sent a message of condolence to President Rodrigo Duterte over the aftermath of tropical cyclone Agaton (international name Megi).

On behalf of the Chinese government, Xi expressed deep condolences to the victims of the typhoon, the Chinese Embassy says.

"Xi Jinping said, he was shocked to learn that the Philippines was hit by the typhoon, which has caused heavy casualties and property losses," the embassy says.

April 15, 2022 - 11:55am

Pope Francis expresses solidarity with all those suffering in the wake of cyclone Agaton (international name Megi).

In a letter addressed to CBCP President Pablo Virgilio David conveyed through Apostolic Nuncio Charles Brown, Vatican's Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin says the Pope "willingly invokes upon all the Filipino people God's blessings of strength and peace."

"He also offers the assurance of prayers for the dead, injured, and displaced as well as those engaged in recovery efforts," Cardinal Parolin says.

 

April 14, 2022 - 1:14pm

The death toll from landslides and flooding in the Philippines triggered by tropical storm Megi (locally named Agaton) hit 115 on Thursday, official figures show, as more bodies were found in mud-caked villages.

Scores of people are still missing and feared dead after the strongest storm to hit the archipelago nation this year dumped heavy rain over several days, forcing tens of thousands into evacuation centres. — AFP

April 13, 2022 - 10:24am

The death toll from landslides and floods in the Philippines rises to 58 on Wednesday, official tallies show, as rescuers dug up more bodies with their bare hands in villages crushed by rain-induced avalanches of mud and earth.

Most of the deaths from tropical storm Agaton (international name Megi) — the strongest to hit the disaster-prone archipelago this year — were in the central province of Leyte where a series of landslides has devastated communities. 

At least 47 people died and 27 were missing after waves of sodden soil smashed into farming settlements over the weekend, local authorities said. Just over 100 people were injured. — AFP

April 13, 2022 - 9:05am

The death toll from "Agaton" has reached 43, NDRRMC says.

The council also reports seven missing persons and eight injured individuals as of April 13.

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