Death toll in Itogon landslides rises to 43

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 16 2018 10:08 PM | Updated as of Sep 17 2018 09:49 AM

Scores of residents leave Barangay Ucab in Itogon, Benguet on September 16, 2018 after a massive landslide buried several houses at the heigh of typhoon Ompong's onslaught. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATED) -- The death toll in landslides triggered by rains brought by typhoon Ompong has risen to 43, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Sunday.

Quoting Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, Roque said 43 bodies have been recovered in Itogon.

A survivor was also rescued, while 30 others were reported missing.

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Office of Civil Defense chief Ricardo Jalad also said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported that there are at least 53 reported dead due to the typhoon.

Jalad, however, clarified that this is an unofficial count since most of the report came in through text messaging.

At least 47 were also reported missing in Cordillera.

Jalad said they will release final figures once all the reports have been confirmed.

Police spokesman Benigno Durana also released updated figures showing the number of dead had risen to 49 from the previous reported toll of 30.

About 100 volunteers and rescuers have committed to the technically very difficult and deeply distressing process of retrieving the bodies.

They have temporarily stopped the retrieval operations as of 7 p.m. Sunday night as exhuming the bodies gets more strenuous at night with no power and little to no equipment to use.

Several relatives of the residents from the landslide hit area visited the incident command post where the bodies from the site are being brought for identification.

The world's biggest storm this year left large expanses in northern Luzon underwater as fierce winds tore trees from the ground and rain unleashed dozens of landslides.

In the town of Baggao, the typhoon demolished houses, tore off roofs and downed power lines. Some roads were cut off by landslides and many remained submerged.

Farms across northern Luzon, which produces much of the nation's rice and corn, were sitting under muddy floodwater, their crops ruined just a month before harvest. - with a report from Justin Aguilar, ABS-CBN News