Philippine rescuers race to help typhoon-hit towns

August 13, 2013 8:53 am
Residents commute along a flooded stretch of road in Manila, on August 12, 2013 /AFP
Residents commute along a flooded stretch of road in Manila, on August 12, 2013 /AFP

, MANILA August 12- Philippine rescuers cleared landslide-choked roads on Tuesday in an effort to reach isolated villages that were devastated by deadly Typhoon Utor, which left tens of thousands of people homeless.

The government reported that two people had been confirmed killed and 11 others were missing after Utor, the strongest storm this year, swept across the north of the country on Monday.

“Trees have fallen down, roofs have been torn off houses, electric poles and electric towers have collapsed,” said National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council spokesman Reynaldo Balido, describing chaos from coastal towns to mountain villages hundreds of kilometres (miles) apart.

One of the top priorities for rescuers were three towns in Aurora province on the east coast of the main island of Luzon that were in Utor’s direct path when it made landfall before dawn on Monday.

The towns, home to about 45,000 people, were still completely cut off on Tuesday morning, according to Aurora disaster chief Elson Egargue.

He said the mayor of one of the towns, Casiguran, reported that 95 percent of the buildings in the town had been destroyed.

Rescuers deployed earthmoving equipment on Tuesday to clear the national highway leading to the three towns, which was blocked in several areas by landslides, floods and fallen tree trunks, Egargue said.

However Egargue and Balido said officials had not reported any major deaths, giving cause for optimism.

“These towns are used to typhoons so we hope they have become more resilient and avoided casualties,” Balido said.

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