Death toll in Philippine storm, landslides surges to 122

MANILA (Bernama) – The death toll in heavy rains that triggered landslides and flash flooding in the Philippines has risen to 122, Xinhua news agency reported according to a government disaster agency yesterday.

The Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that 37 new deaths were reported in connection with the recent tropical depression, bringing the death toll to 122 people.

The new fatalities are all from the worst-hit Bicol region, which now has an overall total of 105 deaths. Officials said the deaths in the region were mostly caused by landslides, triggered by heavy rains.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to visit the Bicol region today, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said, adding Duterte wants to see for himself the destruction brought about by the heavy rains.

Duterte also wants to ensure that measures are being done to alleviate the plight of those affected by the storm, Panelo added.

NDRRMC Executive Director Ricardo Jalad earlier attributed the high number of reported casualties from storm Usman to the failure of pre-emptive evacuation of residents living in risky areas amid warnings of heavy rains that may trigger flooding and landslides.

Jalad said the agency had issued advisories from the weather bureau of the potential risks from Usman. He said the evacuation of people is the call of local government officials.

According to the NDRRMC, nearly 74,000 families or more than 308,000 people from 457 areas in the Philippines were affected by the tropical depression that hit land on December 29, 2018.