The death toll from Typhoon “Ompong” has climbed to 81 and could hit triple digits as searchers dig through a landslide where dozens are presumed dead, authorities said Wednesday.
Ompong swamped farm fields in the nation’s agricultural north and smashed houses when it tore through at the 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],” Ricardo Jalad, civil defense chief, said. “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 Ompong hit, as it came on the heels of nearly a month of continuous monsoon rains that saturated the soil of the already hazardous area.
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.
The typhoon also damaged P2.27 billion in infrastructure in Northern Luzon that would take months to repair, with more than 30 bridges and roads destroyed, the Department of Public Works and Highways said.
Some 30 road sections in the Ilocos region, Central Luzon and the Cordillera Administrative Region remained closed to traffic due to debris, fallen trees, mudflow, and damage.
Most of the affected roads and bridges are in the Cordillera region and Mountain province, including Kennon Road, which leads to Baguio City, the DPWH said.
DPWH Disaster Response Teams continue to undertake clearing operations and road and bridge restoration work. With AFP
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