Philippines, Indonesia reel from flash floods, landslides

The death toll from landslides and devastating floods in the central Philippines triggered by a tropical depression climbed to 85, officials said on Wednesday.
A road damaged by floods in the town of Bulan in the Philippines' Sorsogon province on Monday. More than 45,000 families or nearly 192,000 people from 457 villages in the country's central and northern regions were affected by the tropical storm that
A road damaged by floods in the town of Bulan in the Philippines' Sorsogon province on Monday. More than 45,000 families or nearly 192,000 people from 457 villages in the country's central and northern regions were affected by the tropical storm that hit land last Saturday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Scores dead as heavy rain triggers disasters and hampers search for many who are missing

MANILA/JAKARTA • Landslides and flash floods triggered by heavy rain have killed dozens of people in the Philippines and western Indonesia, with rescuers searching for dozens more who were missing yesterday.

In the Philippines' Bicol region and Eastern Visayas, 75 people were dead and 16 others missing, said the Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). At least 12 people were injured.

More than 45,000 families or nearly 192,000 people from 457 villages in these central and northern Philippine regions were affected by the tropical depression that hit land last Saturday.

The storms weakened into a low-pressure area after hitting land, but continued to dump days of heavy rain that triggered the landslides and massive flooding.

NDRRMC spokesman Edgar Posadas said 59 of the deaths were from the Bicol region, 13 from Eastern Visayas in the central Philippines, and three others from nearby regions. "The deaths were mostly due to landslides," he added.

Mr Posadas said many roads were rendered impassable due to flooding and landslides. The heavy rain also caused power outages and the cancellation of 36 flights.

The Manila government is now in the process of restoring damaged electric lines and roads, he added.

CHALLENGES

Relief efforts have also been hampered by a lot of people who want to get to the disaster. The roads are narrow, which has caused rescue teams, logistics and ambulances to be stuck in traffic jams.

DR SUTOPO PURWO NUGROHO, spokesman for Indonesia's national disaster management agency.

The most affected provinces, such as Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Sorsogon, are now placed under a state of calamity. This will allow the fast release of relief funds, while price controls will be imposed on basic necessities and prime commodities.

In Indonesia, a landslide triggered by heavy rain left at least 15 people dead and dozens missing in West Java province. The landslide occurred shortly before sunset on Monday.

Search and rescue teams said they have found 15 people dead and are scouring the area for at least 25 missing.

Pouring rain, power cuts and rough roads are preventing heavy machinery from accessing the area in Sukabumi regency, national disaster management agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said yesterday.

 

"Relief efforts have also been hampered by a lot of people who want to get to the disaster," he added. "The roads are narrow, which has caused rescue teams, logistics and ambulances to be stuck in traffic jams."

The search operation was halted for the night but will resume today. Four people have been injured in the disaster and 60 others evacuated from the area, Dr Sutopo said.

Landslides are common in Indonesia, a vast tropical archipelago prone to natural disasters and torrential downpours.

Over 20 people died last October when flash floods and landslides hit several provinces on Sumatra island in western Indonesia.

In June 2016, nearly 50 people died when floods and landslides struck Central Java province.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2019, with the headline 'Philippines, Indonesia reel from flash floods, landslides'. Print Edition | Subscribe