THE death toll from the deadliest cyclone to hit the Philippines this year has climbed to 67, while many areas remained submerged in a northern region hit by the worst flooding in more than four decades, officials said on Sunday.
President Rodrigo Duterte flew to Tuguegarao province to assess the situation in Cagayan Valley region, which was heavily flooded after Typhoon Vamco dumped rain over swathes of the main Luzon island, including the capital, metropolitan Manila.
Twenty-two fatalities were recorded in Cagayan, 17 in southern Luzon, eight in Metro Manila, and 20 in two other regions, said Mark Timbal, the disaster management agency spokesman.
Twelve people were still missing and nearly 26,000 houses were damaged by Vamco, he said.
“This is the worst flooding that we had in the last 45 years,” Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba said during a briefing with Duterte. “We see that it is worsening every year.”
The accumulated effects of weather disturbances and huge volumes of water from a dam affected thousands of families in Cagayan, some of whom had fled to rooftops to escape two-storey high floods.
Six cyclones hit the Philippines in a span of just four weeks, including Vamco and Super Typhoon Goni, the world’s most powerful this year.
But Mamba also lamented about denuded forests in Cagayan, prompting Duterte to order him to curb logging operations in the province.
“We always talk about illegal logging and mining but nothing has been done about it,” Duterte said.
Relief and rescue operations continued in Cagayan even as the nearby Magat Dam was still releasing water, two days after releasing a volume equivalent to two Olympic-size pools per second, based on government data.
Vamco, the 21st cyclone to hit the Philippines this year, also caused the worst flooding in years in parts of the capital. – Thomson Reuters Foundation.