Rescuers have recovered more bodies from two storm-induced landslides in the central and northern Philippines during the past few days, bringing the death toll to almost 150 since powerful Typhoon Mangkhut slammed into the country two weeks ago, officials said Friday.
Dozens of people are still missing and are also believed dead, in the northern mountainous region of Itogon and in the quarry site in Naga City in central Cebu province, officials said.
Baltazar Tribunalo, provincial disaster management chief, said that at least 64 people have been recovered and 19 others are missing, and believed dead, after a side of a mountain collapsed onto an impoverished community in Naga.
“Our rescuers could no longer detect any signs of life. The team from Manila also told us from ground zero there are no more signs of life,” he said.
The firm blamed for the tragedy assured families of the victims they are helping and cooperating with the government in the retrieval operations.
Chito Maniago, a spokesman for the Apo Land and Quarry Corp., which had concessions on the site said the firm was not shirking responsibility and was working with rescuers to recover the victims.
Last month, the Philippine environment department’s mines and geosciences bureau inspected the area and found cracks in the slopes in the Naga quarry site.
But the APO firm said they had not begun quarry operations at the site that collapsed.
In the mountainous northern town of Itogon, where a side of the ridge slammed onto an old mining community, rescuers have pulled out 78 bodies so far, officials said.
About 30 remained missing, according to town’s police chief, Senior Inspector Heherson Zambale.
The two landslides occurred last week after Typhoon Mangkhut unleashed heavy rains and barreled through the nation with winds of 170 kph (105 mph) and gusts of 260 kph (160 mph).