tropical cyclones in PH

Agaton death toll rises to 73 in Leyte

Brynch Bonachita
Agaton death toll rises to 73 in Leyte

ANGUISHED WAIT. Residents of Barangay Pilar in Abuyog town, Leyte await word of their relatives, with around 150 individuals still missing after a major landslide caused by Tropical Depression Agaton's heavy rains.

Abuyog Mayor Lemuel Traya

A landslide occurs in Abuyog town as the local government evacuates residents on the second day of Tropical Depression Agaton's onslaught

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – The death toll from landslides and floods spawned by Tropical Depression Agaton (Megi) in Leyte province rose to 73 on Wednesday, April 13, local government and Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) officials said.

Baybay City’s latest disaster report said rescuers had found a total of 47 bodies as of 8:30 am on April 13. 

Search and rescue operations in various areas continued, with 27 persons still missing, the local government said.

More than half of 105 injured persons needed hospital care, the report said.

Mayor Lemuel Traya of Abuyog town, where a huge landslide rocked Barangay Pilar on Tuesday afternoon, April 12, did not respond to Rappler’s query on disaster statistics.

But the BFP Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) said rescuers had recovered 26 bodies in Pilar. It also posted an aerial video of the stricken village on Facebook.

Traya showed ongoing road clearing operations on the Abuyog-Silago road.

The Abuyog mayor told the wire agency Agence France Presse that around 150 residents were still missing while 250 people were transferred to evacuation centers after being rescued by boat.

On his official Facebook page, Traya said that prior to the tragedy, the town was conducting road clearing operations to access Pilar village and nearby areas as part of preemptive evacuation efforts.

Agaton had remained almost stationary over Eastern Visayas, bringing more rains on April 12 after already causing floods and landslides on April 11.

The LGU, fearing exactly what happened the day after, was trying to open a path for evacuation vehicles.

“Moments later, we were all terrified on realizing that Barangay Pilar had been completely devastated by a disastrous landslide,” Traya said.

The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) in Eastern Visayas reported Wednesday morning that Agaton displaced some 14,528 persons, and affected at least 96,238 families or 384,339 individuals across 442 barangays.

Of those displaced, 12,691 are in 152 evacuation centers in different parts of the region, while the remaining 1,837 are outside.

Together with the military and local government units, the Department of Social Welfare and Development released 5,133 food packs worth P3.42 million to areas hit hardest by the storm. 

Of these food packs, 2,000 were distributed to Baybay City, 1,313 in Abuyog and 1,800 in Guiuan. – Rappler.com

Brynch Bonachita is a Visayas-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.