Ompong claims first victims, as officials fear body count ‘will go higher’


Posted at Sep 15 2018 05:58 PM

A public market is destroyed in Tuguegarao city, Cagayan, on Saturday in the aftermath of Typhoon Ompong, which claimed the lives of its first victims and forced tens of thousands of people from their homes. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

Typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut) smashed through the country on Saturday, as the biggest storm to hit the region this year claimed the lives of its first victims and forced tens of thousands of people from their homes.

Roughly four million people were in the path of destruction the storm slashed through the northern tip of Luzon island, leaving at least four dead.

The dead were two women killed in landslide, a girl who drowned and a security guard crush by a falling wall. In addition to the four killed in the Philippines a women was swept out to sea in Taiwan.

"As we go forward, this number will go higher," Ricardo Jalad, head of the national civil defense office, told reporters, referring to the death toll.

As the powerful storm left the country and barreled toward densely populated Hong Kong and southern China, local authorities began sending search teams to remote areas.

The extent of the storm's destruction began to emerge later on Saturday, with reports of rain-soaked hillsides collapsing, torrents of out-of-control floodwaters and people being rescued from inundated homes.

Just more than 105,000 people fled their homes in the largely rural, agricultural region, seeking to escape the fury of the massive typhoon.

Ompong was packing sustained winds of 170 kph and gusts of up to 260 km per hour as it left the Philippines.

In an earlier report, two people were killed during the onslaught of the typhoon Ompong, disaster-prevention officials said.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council confirmed that the 2 fatalities were both disaster responders from the Cordillera region.

Authorities withheld their identities.

— With a report from Agence France-Presse