Philippines raises typhoon Mangkhut death toll to 81

by BERNAMA / pic by REUTERS

The death toll caused by the powerful typhoon Mangkhut which battered the Philippines over the last weekend has risen to 81, Xinhua news agency quoted the police as saying on Wednesday.

Rescuers are scrambling to dig up the site of a landslide but they find at least 70 people still missing, most of them buried alive at a landslide in the mining municipality of Itogon in Benguet province from the northern Philippines.

Philippine Presidential Adviser Francis Tolentino, who was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte for preparation and response efforts over super typhoon Mangkhut, said rescue operations would continue to look for possible survivors in the Itogon landslide.

The majority of the dead and the missing came from the mountainous Cordillera Administrative Region where many landslides occurred, he said.

Mangkhut is the strongest typhoon which hit the Philippines this year. It struck the northeastern tip of the Philippine main Luzon island early on Saturday, leaving behind a trail of landslides, damaged houses, flattened farms, fallen trees and power poles.

Cagayan Valley, the country’s top corn producer and second rice producer, is the region’s hardest hit by the typhoon which struck just before the harvest season.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, damage to the Philippines’ agriculture from Typhoon Mangkhut ballooned to an estimated 14.3 billion pesos (US$264.3 million).

Typhoon Mangkhut is the 15th to lash the Philippines this year. Weather forecasters said the country was likely to experience four or five more typhoons before year-end.

Typhoons hit the Philippines about 19 times in a year, bringing strong winds and heavy rains, resulting in flooding, great damage to crops, houses and buildings, and death.

In 2013, super typhoon Haiyan devastated the central Philippines, killing more than 6,000 people. In 2009, typhoon Ketsana also caused massive flooding in Metro Manila, killing more than 700.