World News

Rescue Workers Search for Missing After Typhoon Strikes Philippines

Posted October 30, 2018 11:29 p.m. EDT

MANILA, Philippines — Rescue workers in the Philippines were searching Wednesday for up to 20 people who were missing after heavy rains from a typhoon set off landslides and flash floods across the country’s north, officials said.

The missing were feared to have been in a government building that was buried by a landslide Tuesday afternoon in the town of Natonin, in Mountain province, as Typhoon Yutu cut across the northern Philippines. The site of the landslide was cut off by debris, but rescuers managed to get there by Wednesday morning.

“Responders had a difficult time going to the area, so I requested two air force helicopters with a search and rescue team and their equipment and K-9 dogs,” said Ruben Carandang, an official who was leading the local relief operation.

Carandang said one body had been pulled from the rubble and government engineers, contractors and several evacuees taking refuge from the typhoon were believed to have been in the building.

In the nearby town of Banaue, where another landslide struck, volunteers retrieved the bodies of four people, two of them children, the government said.

Flash floods also swamped at least two schools in the province of Kalinga. But classes had been canceled because of the typhoon, and there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Richard Gordon, a senator who is also the chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, said the organization had sent earth-moving equipment to help with the search in Natonin.

“We will do what needs to be done to bring hope to people who are extremely vulnerable,” he said. “We should all pray.” He added that emergency meals and other relief items had been sent to storm-damaged areas in the north.

Typhoon Yutu, called Rosita in the Philippines, affected nearly 40,000 people, including many who fled to evacuation centers. Its winds of over 90 mph blew away tin roofs and toppled trees as it cut a swath of destruction westward. By Wednesday morning, the typhoon had weakened as it exited the country, the state weather agency said.

Tropical cyclone warnings were posted in about 30 Philippine provinces, including in the capital, Manila, where most of the day was rainy. Classes in many areas were also suspended Tuesday, while up to 30 domestic and international flights were canceled.

Yutu was the 18th typhoon of the season to hit the Philippines, which endures 20 or so every year, some of them devastating. It came just a month after the powerful Typhoon Mangkhut cut a similar path, dumping heavy rains across a large area of the northern island of Luzon and causing landslides that left at least 150 dead.

Mangkhut was the most powerful storm to hit the archipelago since 2013, when Typhoon Haiyan killed thousands.

Yutu struck the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands last week, tearing through Saipan and Tinian and destroying buildings, though only one person was reported to have been killed.