Philippine rescuers recover 8 bodies, race to save dozens more trapped in landslide caused by Typhoon Yutu

Typhoon Yutu, which caused devastation in some Western Pacific islands, swept across the Philippines on October 30, toppling electric posts, tearing roofs off homes, bending trees and pouring sheets of rain, across the northern half of Luzon.
Typhoon Yutu, which caused devastation in some Western Pacific islands, swept across the Philippines on October 30, toppling electric posts, tearing roofs off homes, bending trees and pouring sheets of rain, across the northern half of Luzon.PHOTO: AFP

MANILA - Emergency workers on Wednesday (Oct 31) recovered eight bodies and rescued six survivors as they scrambled to free dozens trapped inside a government building inundated by a wall of mud and rocks, as a typhoon swept across the Philippines.

At least 17 more who sought shelter inside the building, which housed an office of the public works department in Banawel district, Natonin town, in Mountain Province, 450km north of Manila, were listed as missing.

Mr Ruben Carandang, regional director of the Office of Civil Defence, said there were 31 people inside the building: a project engineer, 20 contractors, three security guards and seven evacuees.

The landslide occurred at around 4pm, on Tuesday (Oct 30), he said.

“In the pictures sent to me this morning, the building was not flattened. There were doors open. There are open spaces,” Mr Carandang told Reuters.

“There is a possibility there are people still alive. They will not die if they were not crushed,” he said.

Typhoon Yutu, which caused devastation in some Western Pacific islands, swept across the Philippines on Tuesday, toppling electric posts, tearing roofs off homes, bending trees and pouring sheets of rain that triggered mudslides, across the northern half of the main island of Luzon.

 
 
 

Police reports earlier said four people died in Mountain Province. It was not clear whether these were the same ones trapped inside the government building.

A family of four, including an 11-year-old girl and two boys aged eight and 10, died in a landslide in Batad, a remote village of about 1,500 in Ifugao province, some 430km north of the capital Manila.

Two more were also reported to have drowned in Kalinga and Isabela provinces.

Yutu made landfall early in the morning in Dinapigue town, Isabela province, 268km north of Manila, with winds of 140kmh and gusts of up to 230kmh.

The typhoon had greatly weakened since it made a direct hit on Saipan and Tinian, two islands of the Northern Marianas, an American territory about 9,000km west of the US mainland, as a Category 5 storm packing 270kmh winds last weekend.

Yutu then moved across the main island of Luzon, bringing ferocious winds and heavy rains.

Local television footage from the path of the storm showed rivers of mud inundating small settlements, a torrent of water spilling over a dam, shattered glass panelling at a hotel, the collapsed roof of a warehouse, and a burger stand uprooted off its moorings.

Hurricane-force winds, meanwhile, buffeted Manila all through the day.

Hundreds of ferries and boats were moored at a key port in Batangas province, south of Manila, stranding over 1,000 passengers.

Three dams in Luzon began releasing water to prevent flooding.

Some 17,000 were taken to evacuation centres.

In places like Masinloc town, in Zambales, however, tens of thousands still made their way to cemeteries to clean graveyards as they got ready for a two-day holiday to remember the dead.

Yutu, locally named Rosita, is the 18th typhoon to hit the Philippines this year. It comes just six weeks after super typhoon Mangkhut tore through northern Luzon six weeks ago, triggering rivers of mud that inundated mountain homes and killed over 100 people.