Philippines’ typhoon toll reaches 81 amid rescue efforts
Manila, Sep. 19 (IANS): Philippines authorities on Wednesday raised the death toll to 81 and the number of missing to 70 following typhoon Mangkhut’s path through the country’s north where rescuers continue searching for dozens of people trapped in a mine buried by a landslide.
The strongest typhoon of the season swept the north of the island of Luzon on Saturday. The number affected by the typhoon now exceeds one million, Efe news reported.
Out of those missing, 66 were registered in the Cordillera region where the mining town of Itogon, Benguet province, is located. There, at least 39 deaths were confirmed at a mine amid the ongoing rescue efforts.
In Itogon, floods and landslides caused by Mangkhut also buried an area with gold mining sites and several makeshift shelters where some miners and their families lived illegally.
At least 200 people, including experts and volunteers, have been working since Sunday to rescue those trapped and as of Tuesday night had recovered 19 bodies by digging with picks and shovels in the mud as heavy machinery could not reach the area.
According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, 148,400 people were being helped inside and outside evacuation centres.
Authorities estimated that most of these people will have to stay at least three more weeks in the centres, where hygiene, sanitation and drinking water conditions were becoming increasingly precarious, according to the Red Cross.
“In this first intervention, our priority is to guarantee water and sanitation to the affected population, and later we will focus on the economic security of the families,” said the head of Red Cross’ Spain delegation in the Philippines, Luis Carrasco.
Red Cross teams were planning to deploy water treatment plants in Benguet as they could not manage to reach further north. “As we go north and find water points, we will install more treatment plants,” Carrasco said.