Death toll from Philippines landslides, floods reaches 115

The death toll from landslides and flooding in the Philippines triggered by Tropical Storm Megi has risen to at least 115, as search teams found more bodies in mud-buried villages.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Eighty-six of the casualties were in Baybay, a mountainous area prone to landslides in central Leyte province, where 236 people were also injured, the city government said in a report.

Megi was the first tropical storm this year to hit the Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,600 islands.

Dozens of people are still missing and feared dead after several days of torrential rain with tens of thousands of people forced into evacuation centres.

Emergency teams retrieved dozens of bodies from the coastal village of Pilar, which was destroyed by a landslide on Tuesday.

At least 26 people were killed there and about 150 remain missing, authorities said, with little hope of finding anyone else alive.

Many of those who died had hiked up the mountain to avoid flash floods, villagers told the AFP news agency.

Pilar fisherman Santiago Dahonog, 38, said he rushed into the sea with two siblings and a nephew as the mud hurtled towards them.

“We got out of the house, ran to the water and started swimming,” he told AFP. “I was the only survivor.”

Three people also drowned on the main southern island of Mindanao, the national disaster agency said in its latest update.

“The search, rescue and retrieval operations will continue,” a Philippine Army infantry unit in Baybay said on Facebook.

Aerial photographs and video from the local government showed collapsed slopes, burying coconut plantations and houses in dirt and mud. In one area, rescuers had to use rubber boats to reach a landslide.

Megi made landfall on Sunday with sustained winds of up to 65 kilometres (40 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 80 kph (49 mph), but has since dissipated.

The Philippines, ranked among the nations most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, is hit by an average of 20 storms every year.

In December, more than 400 people were killed and nearly 1,400 injured after Typhoon Rai tore through the central Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded, killed 6,300 people in 2013.

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