MANILA— Philippine authorities on Wednesday struggled to distribute aid to tens of thousands of displaced people sheltering in evacuation centers after Tropical Depression “Agaton” (International name: Megi) triggered landslides in coastal provinces that left 56 dead and dozens missing.
More than 42,000 people were displaced and 200 injured when Agaton made landfall at the weekend, the first tropical cyclone to hit the Philippines this year. The storm has now dissipated, the state weather bureau said.
Search and rescue efforts were focused in Baybay city, a mountainous area prone to landslides in the eastern Philippines, which has seen the majority of casualties so far, data from police and disaster agencies showed. Images on social media showed bodies, including those of children, being pulled from under thick mud during rescue operations.
Meanwhile, survivors were still being evacuated from flooded areas, coastguard spokesperson, Commodore Armand Balilo, told a public briefing on Wednesday.
“Water systems here have been bogged down so our problem is drinking water,” Norberto Oja, a health officer in Baybay, told DZRH radio station. The city has also sought help from nearby areas to boost its healthcare capacity, he added.
Baybay Mayor Jose Carlos Cari told DZMM radio station, “There’s aid like food and medicines but the problem is management in evacuation centers.”
A foundation of broadcasting firm ABS-CBN said it was waiting for floods to subside before distributing 7,500 food packs.
Port operations in several provinces had resumed but scattered rain showers were expected over the eastern coasts facing the Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
Mark Timbal, spokesperson of the national disaster agency, told DZRH radio station rescuers had to be cautious because it was still raining in some areas and the risk of landslides was still high.
“The landslides reached far beyond the hazard area, up to relatively safer areas of the community,” he said.
The Philippines sees an average of 20 tropical storms annually. In December, category 5 typhoon Rai ravaged central provinces, leaving 405 dead and nearly 1,400 injured.
—Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor