Philippine Teams Rush to Reach Communities Devastated in Storm’s Path

Marielle Lucenio
Philippine Teams Rush to Reach Communities Devastated in Storm’s Path Philippine rescuers retrieve the body of a landslide victim from a home in northern Baguio City, Oct. 13, 2021.

At least nine people were listed as missing Wednesday after floods and landslides from a storm devastated parts of the Philippines and left at least 13 dead, according to government reports, as rescue teams scrambled to reach hard-hit communities.   

Eight of the deaths occurred in remote mountain towns in the northern provinces of Benguet, Ilocos Sur and Cagayan, where Severe Tropical Storm Kompasu dumped nearly 25 inches of rain overnight on Monday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said. The storm-related deaths included four people killed in western Palawan province, according to a tally of the dead compiled by the government.

Benjamin Magalong, the mayor of Baguio, a hill town in Benguet famous for its resorts, said the heavily saturated hills could no longer hold water, resulting in landslides. Rescuers had recovered the bodies of two children and their grandfather, who were killed when a mudslide crushed their house, he said.

“The two missing children were found dead under thick mud. Their house was buried in a landslide after hours of torrential rainfall in the city. Rescuers are trying to retrieve their remains along with the bodies of two dogs,” Magalong told reporters.

“Nine incidents of landslides were reported in the city due to the effects of the severe tropical storm,” he said. 

Kompasu, known as Maring in the Philippines, made landfall Monday night on Fuga, an island in Cagayan, bringing winds of 100 kph (62.1 mph) near the center with gusts of up to 125 kph (77.6 mph), the Philippine weather bureau said.

“Rescue personnel and teams from the local government units are on the scene as we assure all requests for rescue and assistance are being acted upon by all relevant agencies,” Philippine presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Wednesday. 

“Support from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard, the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Fire Protection are likewise mobilized and deployed.” 

Lt. Gen. Arnulfo Burgos Jr., leader of the military’s Northern Luzon Command, said disaster response teams were mobilized in the Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and Cordillera Administrative Region. 

“Military personnel and Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary are actively participating in humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations in the affected areas,” he said. 

21,000 displaced

By Wednesday, the number of Filipinos displaced by the storm and its aftermath had swollen to more than 21,000 as more reports from the field came in, with nearly 6,000 being housed in evacuation centers, disaster relief officials said. 

Work and construction crews had restored power to most northern areas by Wednesday morning, while major highways and mountain passes had been cleared of debris, government officials said. But rescue teams were still trying to reach some of the worst affected regions, they said. 

The head of the Cagayan Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Office said damage in his region totaled 46 million pesos (U.S. $909,000).

“Our estimate for our agriculture is 34 million pesos ($671,000); in livestock, the damage to our livestock is almost 1.2 million pesos ($23,700). Here in our infrastructure, it also reached 11 million pesos ($217,000),” Col. Darwin Sacramed told reporters during a press briefing by the presidential communications office.

About 20 tropical storms and typhoons batter the Philippines each year, some of them devastating. Kompasu was the 13th tropical storm to hit the country in 2021.

In November 2013, at least 7,000 people died and scores were reported missing after Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines and caused massive storm surges. 

Tropical Storm Ketsana, which flooded large parts of the capital Manila in 2009 and resulted in more than 900 deaths, dropped 18 inches of rain – about six inches less than Kompasu – the state weather bureau said. 

Jojo Riñoza and Jeoffrey Maitem contributed to this report from Dagupan City and Cotabato City, Philippines.


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