Downgraded but still deadly

September 17, 2018
Landslide - Benguet (Typhoon Ompong)

No longer a super typhoon when it made landfall, Ompong wrought havoc like one.

FORTY-THREE miners were trapped in a landslide in Benguet at the height of typhoon Ompong and rescuers have recovered 30 bodies while 13 are missing and feared dead.

The number of ill-fated miners could raise the earlier death total from Ompong from 29 to 72. The earlier figure was reported by Presidential Political Adviser Francis Tolentino, whom President Rodrigo Duterte named as his Ompong pointman in CAR, in a press conference.

However, the Philipine National Police  tallied 59 dead, 13 missing and 33 injured in Ompong’s rampage. No details were immediately available.

The Benguet landslide report was confirmed by Armed Forces Northern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat.

Salamat said the 43 miners were trapped in a mining site in Barangay Ucab, Benguet.

"We have 43... 43 miners na -trap dun sa first gate of Barangay Ucab, Benguet,” he said.

He said as of press time, retrieval operation was still ongoing and they already recovered 30 bodies while 13 were still missing and feared dead.

"Ongoing ‘yung retrieval operation, so may 30 bodies na tayo, yung 43 na yun possibly mga dead na yun," Salamat said.

Salamat said as of now details on the incident were not yet clear but the incident was reported to him on Sunday morning.

Tolentino had been sent to his home region ahead of the strong typhoon by Duterte who visited hard-hit Tuguegarao City in Cagayan and Laoag City in Ilocos Norte the morning after Ompong exited the Philippines.

Of the 29 fatalities, 24 were from Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). The region also accounted for 13 missing persons.

Also in Cagayan a news team of TV5 was reported missing Friday night while covering the onslaught of Ompong.

Later however the TV5 said its news team was actually not missing but only lost contact with the head office.

TV reporter Romel Lopez, his cameraman and assistant cameraman who were all last seen in Santa Ana, Cagayan, are safe and sound, TV5 said.

Among the fatalities in CAR was a family of six who died after their house in Baguio City was buried in a landslide.

A resident in Kalinga also died after a rock fell on him during a land erosion.

In Nueva Vizcaya, a landslide also killed another family of four Saturday afternoon in a remote barangay. Killed were a 36-year-old father and his three children, one aged two years old and the other one, eight months old. Three of the family members were spared as they had earlier sought shelter in the evacuation center.

In Ilocos Sur, a man was clearing debris when a mango tree fell on him. He was pronounced dead on arrival.

There was good news however. A vehicle of the Department of Public Works and Highways which was buried in a landslide was found, and all its passengers were rescued unharmed.

Tolentino said there were no reports yet of casualties in Cagayan and Isabela.

Efforts are being done to restore power and communication to areas affected, Tolentino said.

He added that relief goods had been prepositioned even in remote areas.

Rescue and clearing operations personnel were on standby at the Office of Civil Defense and ready for deployment. 

With Zaida delos Reyes

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