Landslide, tropical storm kill 20 in Philippines

/ Source: The Associated Press

Rescuers dug up six more bodies in a remote village where a landslide buried a dozen houses in the northeastern Philippines, raising the death toll left by a tropical storm to at least 20, officials said Monday.

Army troops, police and villagers unearthed the bodies overnight from a huge mound of mud and debris that cascaded down a mountain and buried 12 houses as residents slept early Saturday, officials said. Nine bodies had previously been recovered from the village in Magallanes township in Sorsogon province.

Rescuers used their hands and shovels on Monday to find three more residents still missing and believed to be buried in the pile of mud, regional disaster official Bernardo Alejandro told The Associated Press by telephone.

The storm — which was moving further out to sea on Monday — left five other people dead, including two women who were electrocuted amid heavy rains in nearby Camarines Sur province, and two men who drowned in Camarines Norte province, Alejandro said.

A baby also died in Sorsogon's Irosin township when a tree collapsed on a house over the weekend, he said.

The storm, which lashed several northeastern provinces late last week, gained strength over the weekend with sustained winds of 65 miles per hour before moving offshore. On Monday, it was 242 miles northeast off the country's coast and moving further out in the Pacific Ocean, said government forecaster Aldczar Aurelio.

On Saturday, authorities in Albay province moved nearly 45,000 villagers into school shelters from their houses at the foot of the Mayon volcano, fearing possible mudslides. Some of the villagers started to return home Monday after weather improved overnight, Alejandro said.

About 20 typhoons and tropical storms lash the country each year, mostly after June. The current storm struck in the middle of the Philippine summer, an unusual occurrence that may have been caused by changing weather patterns caused by global warming, Alejandro said.