Asia Pacific

Philippine death toll from Typhoon Mangkhut passes 80, could top 100 as more bodies are recovered from landslide

AFP-JIJI

The death toll in the Philippines from Typhoon Mangkhut has climbed to 81 and could hit triple digits as searchers dig through a landslide where dozens are presumed dead, authorities said Wednesday.

Mangkhut swamped fields in the agricultural north and smashed houses when it tore through last weekend with violent winds and heavy rains.

Since then the toll has climbed mostly due to the corpses recovered from the massive landslide in the mining town of Itogon, where dozens are still believed buried under the mud.

“From the list I saw, 59 people are still missing” at Itogon, said Ricardo Jalad, civil defense chief. “If you add that to those already recovered, it’s possible the toll could top 100.”

The typhoon, the most powerful to strike this year, also battered Hong Kong and killed four in China’s southern province of Guangdong.

Searchers at Itogon continued their grim work on Wednesday, digging with shovels and their bare hands in the vast expanse of mud that crushed dwellings used by small-scale miners.

The area was primed for disaster before Mangkhut hit; the typhoon came after nearly a month of continuous monsoon rains that had saturated the soil of the already hazardous area.

Of the hundreds digging through the debris, many were miners looking for friends and relatives, determined to make sure they received a proper burial.

The Philippines’ deadliest storm on record is Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing across the central Philippines in November 2013.