At least 42 people have been killed in heavy rains and landslides caused by tropical storm Megi, the first of the season to hit the Southeast Asian archipelago, as it tore through the central and southern Philippines.
Megi made landfall on Sunday with sustained winds of up to 65km (40 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 80km/h (50mph). The Philippines usually sees about 20 such storms annually.
Local authorities said at least 36 people died and 26 others were missing after landslides slammed into multiple villages around Baybay City in Leyte province – the hardest hit by the storm. More than 100 people were injured, authorities added.
Three people were also killed in the central province of Negros Oriental and three on the main southern island of Mindanao, according to the national disaster agency.
“It’s supposed to be the dry season but maybe climate change has upended that,” said Marissa Miguel Cano, public information officer for Baybay City, where 10 villages have been affected by landslides.
Apple Sheena Bayno was forced to flee after her house in Baybay City flooded. She said her family was still recovering from a super typhoon in December.
“We’re still fixing our house and yet it’s being hit again so I was getting anxious,” she told AFP news agency.
Rescue efforts were also focused on the nearby village of Kantagnos, which an official said had been hit by two landslides.
“There was a small landslide and some people were able to run to safety, and then a big one followed which covered the entire village,” Baybay City Mayor Jose Carlos Cari told local broadcaster DZMM Teleradyo.
Some residents managed to escape or were pulled out of the mud alive, but many are still feared trapped.
Nearly 200 floods were reported in different areas in central and southern provinces over the weekend, forcing about 30,000 families from their homes, officials said.
Images shared by the local fire bureau on Monday showed rescuers wading through partially submerged homes and digging for survivors in a landslide-hit area.
Tropical storm Megi is expected to weaken to 45km/h (28mph) and move back out over the sea on Tuesday, the state weather bureau said.
The Southeast Asian nation also lies on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, where many of the world’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.