Super-typhoon Nanmadol left at least 13 people dead after hitting the Philippines, and the toll is expected to rise as hopes of finding those missing fade, the civil defence chief said Monday.
Over 61,000 people are still evacuated from their homes after Nanmadol, the strongest storm to hit the country this year, lashed the northern edge of the main island of Luzon on the weekend, causing landslides and floods.
The 13 killed were mostly buried in landslides, including two children in northern Baguio who were killed in an avalanche of garbage at the city dumpsite, said head of civil defence operations Benito Ramos.
Eight other people are still missing across the country, feared washed away at sea, in raging rivers, or buried under garbage, he told AFP.
“The missing are most likely dead but we are still searching for them, it is unlikely they are still alive after two or three days,” he said.
Ramos said the dead and missing in garbage dumps were scavengers who made their living foraging for items to salvage, despite the risk that storms could cause the mountain of trash to cascade down upon them.
The problem is widespread in the impoverished Philippines where people refuse to leave dangerous areas because they need to scratch out a living, he said.
“We know which areas get flooded, which areas are landslide-prone. Every time there is a calamity like the storm, these areas always get flooded then we evacuate the people but afterwards, they come back.” Large parts of northern Luzon still remain without power after Nanmadol hit with gusts of up to 230 kilometres per hour starting on Saturday, the civil defence office added.
The typhoon, named after an ancient site in Micronesia, weakened after clipping Luzon and has moved away from the Philippines, towards Taiwan and China.
Taiwanese authorities have evacuated about 8,000 people, closed down schools and halted rail services as Nanmadol made landfall Monday and swept across some of the island’s most densely populated areas.
An average of 20 storms and typhoons, many of them deadly, hit the Philippines annually. The last storms, Nock-ten and Muifa, left at least 70 dead when they hit in July.