Digging continues as Ompong landslides toll rises

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 20 2018 12:22 PM | Updated as of Sep 20 2018 12:53 PM

Rescuers retrieve one of the bodies buried under tons of mud in Bgy. Ucab, Itogon Benguet on Monday. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- Digging continued in landslide-hit areas Thursday, as the death due to Ompong (Mangkhut), the strongest storm so far this year, continued to climb.

There were 88 confirmed fatalities and 64 still missing, according to the Philippine National Police. Of the total deaths, 72 were from the Cordillera mountain region.

Ompong lashed Northern and Central Luzon on Sept. 15, triggering floods and landslides that also displaced thousands. The storm also caused P14 billion in damage to rice and corn crops.

In the mountain town of Itogon, Benguet alone, 57 people remain trapped under the mud, where a landslide buried bunk houses for miners, Mayor Victorio Palangdan told radio DZMM.

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

Ompong also destroyed some 139,000 houses and left 70 people injured, the PNP said.

Around 12,000 individuals were still sheltered in evacuation centers, it added.

The Philippines' deadliest storm on record is super typhoon Yolanda, which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing across the central Philippines in November 2013.

With reports from Zhander Cayabyab, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse