Philippines typhoon toll climbs

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This handout from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) taken and released on Oct 31 shows rescuers looking for survivors after a landslide in Natonin, Mountain Province in the nothern part of the Philippines. (AFP)

Philippine rescuers used hand tools on Wednesday in a desperate search for around 20 people buried in a landslide unleashed by Typhoon Yutu, as the powerful storm’s toll rose to nine. When Yutu struck on Tuesday, torrential rains sparked floods that washed away bridges and fierce gusts razed hundreds of flimsy homes in the nation’s north. Crews were struggling to sift through the wall of mud that smashed into a public works compound where labourers and locals had taken refuge in the Cordillera mountain community of Natonin.

“They (searchers) are digging manually but they still cannot penetrate (with heavy equipment),” provincial disaster offi- cial Edward Chumawar told AFP. “The clearing operations for road access there are ongoing.” Five people had been rescued and three corpses found at the scene, with another roughly 20 people still unaccounted for in the compound.

Dramatic images shot on smartphones emerged Wednesday of swollen, churning rivers and a large concrete bridge washed away by floodwaters. The howling winds picked trees clean of their leaves in certain areas, and sliced the corrugated metal roofs off homes. Crews have begun fanning out across the storm’s path on the Philippines’ most populous Luzon island to count the cost of the typhoon which struck with sustained winds of 150 kilometres (95 miles) per hour and gusts up to 210.

Most of the other deaths in the storm came due to landslides in hilly areas, including ones that took the lives of a father and his three young children, a 5-year-old girl and a man, police said. (AFP)

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