162 more are killed in Philippines deluge
Landslides bury dozens in villages
MANILA - Driving rain just days after back-to-back storms triggered dozens of landslides across the northern Philippines yesterday, killing at least 162 people, washing away villages, and leaving almost an entire province under water.
The latest deluge brought the death toll to nearly 500 from the Philippines’ worst flooding in 40 years after storms started pounding the country’s north on Sept. 26.
Most of the victims were killed in landslides in
Rescuers wading through sloshy mud from nearby Bagiuo city retrieved 162 bodies, bringing the total deaths in the two provinces since Typhoon Parma struck last Saturday to 174, said Rex Manuel, regional disaster relief officer. At least 48 others were missing and 120 were pulled out alive.
Nearly the entire village of Kibungan in Benguet was buried under tons of mud and debris, Manuel said. Some 45 bodies had been recovered. Rescuers used pulleys and cables to transport the dead they retrieved from piles of rubble.
“There was a sudden rumble above us, and then the houses at the bottom were gone, including them,’’ said Melody Coronel. She then pointed to the relatives she found among the dead.
In Mountain Province, 15 bodies were retrieved while 20 people were missing from a village in Tadian township, Manuel said.
Landslides blocked the roads to the mountain city of Baguio, where 48 people died, in the heart of the Cordillera region. The only way to reach the isolated, mountain communities was by foot, and military helicopters could not fly yet because of fog and rain, said Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres of the government’s disaster-relief agency. “We are focused on rescue at this time,’’ he said. “It is raining nonstop in the Cordilleras.’’
About 100 landslides have struck the region since last weekend.
In Benguet Province’s Buyagan village, only three out of about 100 houses remained visible after Thursday night’s landslide buried most structures there. Some 50 residents were saved and seven bodies recovered, Manuel said.
As the mountain region struggled with the rescue operation, farther to the south, in Pangasinan Province, pounding rains prompted authorities to discharge excess water from swollen dams.
The deluge caused the Agno River and surrounding dikes to burst their banks, inundating 30 out of 48 towns, a scene of mayhem that sent residents onto rooftops, scrambling for safety.
Better weather allowed the Philippine coast guard and US Navy helicopters to pluck people marooned on roofs and treetops.
In Rosales, also in Pangasinan Province, the biggest mall in town was flooded by neck-deep waters that sent appliances floating and smashing through glass panels. Some residents were seen carrying some of the goods away.
About 1,000 people remained stranded in the mall as night fell yesterday. Others whose houses were flooded retreated to higher floors or were staying with relatives or neighbors.
The government’s disaster relief agency said it had asked the US Embassy to redeploy hundreds of American troops from the massive cleanup in Manila to the flood-hit areas in the north. The US government doubled its aid pledges to $4.3 million.