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Philippines: Death toll from landslides, floods climbs to 85

VNA
The death toll from landslides and devastating floods in the central Philippines triggered by tropical depression Usman climbed to 85, and 20 people were missing as rescuers slowly reached cut-off communities, officials said on January 2. 

Rescue workers carry a body bag containing remains of victims following a landslide at Cisolok district in Sukabumi (Source: Reuters/ANTARA)

Rescue workers carry a body bag containing remains of victims following a landslide at Cisolok district in Sukabumi (Source: Reuters/ANTARA)

The casualties, including young children, were mostly killed when their homes collapsed in landslides after days of heavy rain in several provinces in the central Philippines, said Ricardo Jalad, executive director of the national disaster agency.

If the rescue force do not recover the missing or find them dead, the number of deaths will be 105, Jalad said.

Rescuers, including the police and military forces, used heavy-lifting equipment to clear roads leading to landslide sites and entered flooded communities using rubber boats.

Usman swept through the central Philippine islands on December 29, brought heavy rain that triggered landslides and flooding in the Bicol and eastern Visayas regions.

Bicol, with a population of 5.8 million, was the hardest hit, with 68 killed in intense rains and landslides. Damage to agriculture in Bicol, which produces rice and corn, was estimated at 342 million pesos (US$6.5 million).

Philippine officials put three provinces under a “state of calamity” to give them access to emergency funds.

About 20 tropical storms lash the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people. The country’s deadliest storm on record is Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing across the central Philippines in November 2013.

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