Philippine rescue work under way

Toll crosses 300 as rescue teams look for survivors of mudslide set off by typhoon.

Mudslides that swept down the mountainside villages make it difficult to search for bodies
Mudslides that swept down the mountainside villages make it difficult to search for bodies
Houses along the Yawa River in Padang, about 10km from Legazpi, the capital of worst-hit Albay province, were buried under five feet of mud.


The national Office of civil defence reported 208 people dead, 261 missing and 90 injured. But the figures included only 22 dead and no one missing from the town of Guinobatan, where Fernando Gonzalez, Albay governor, said a social welfare worker reported 120 bodies had been recovered from massive flooding.

“We need food, tents, water, body bags,” Philippine National Red Cross official Andrew Nocon told DZMM radio. “We sent initially 300 bags, but we need more.”
In Padang village, 28 bodies were recovered and photographed for identification by relatives, said Luis Bello, the mayor’s aide.
Some of the bodies were washed to the sea and brought back by the currents to the shores of the adjacent town of Santo Domingo.
Toppled power pylons
Half of a 12-ft-tall goal post at the local soccer field lay in debris from Mayon. Power pylons were toppled, and a two-lane highway became a one-lane debris-strewn road with overturned trucks scattered about. A backhoe lay half-buried by a massive boulder.
Two other villages on the slopes of Mount Mayon were also hit by mudslides.
Rescue officials are having difficulty accessing the area because roads have been washed out by the storm and telephone and power lines have been knocked out.
Earlier, the army was ordered to mobilise its forces and equipment to help with rescue efforts. Glen Rabonza, head of the government’s civil defence office, said provincial officials had requested 200 body bags.
“Our rescue teams are overstretched rescuing people on rooftops,” he said after briefing the Philippine president on the scale of destruction left by the storm.

The villages on the slopes of the Mayon
volcano were hit by mudslides (file photo)

Durian made landfall on Thursday, battering coastal areas with winds of 250km an hour and gusting over 300km an hour. 
Graciano Yumul of the Department of Science and Technology said the storm was particularly damaging because it came ashore on the island of Catanduanes, which has no mountains to break the storm’s momentum.
“It really destroyed the island that it hit,” he said. “That is the reason you are seeing the kind of destruction you are seeing right now.”
Manila spared
The storm was initially feared to be on course to pass over Manila, the Philippine capital, a city of some 12 million people. 
But it changed course overnight, sparing the city from the worst effects of the storm before it reached into the South China Sea. 

In September Typhoon Xangsane left around 200 people dead and missing, with clean-up work still far from finished.
Damage to transport links and crops from Xangsane and other storms this year has already had a noticeable impact on the Philippine economy, slowing third quarter growth figures.
An archipelago of several thousand islands, the Philippines regularly finds itself in the path of typhoons.
The worst in recent memory came in 1991 when floods triggered by Typhoon Thelma killed more than 5,000 people on the island of Leyte.

Source : News Agencies


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