At least 148 people have died in the Philippines due to landslides and flooding caused by Tropical Storm Megi, according to the latest official figures released on Thursday.
Abuyog, Philippines. The previous official balance gave an account of 133 dead.
Dozens of people are still missing as the storm, the strongest to hit the archipelago this year, forced several thousand people to seek refuge in shelters.
In the central province of Leyte, the most affected, devastating landslides destroyed farming and fishing communities, sweeping away homes and transforming the landscape.
The disaster-prone region is regularly beset by storms – as was the case with super typhoon Haiyan in 2013 – and scientists warn that they are becoming more powerful as the planet warms due to climate change. Elements of rescue units in Abuyog municipality recovered dozens of bodies from a coastal village destroyed by a landslide on Tuesday.
At least 42 people died in landslides in three villages in that municipality, police said.
Most of the deaths occurred in Pilar, and at least 28 bodies were taken to the building by boat, as the village’s roads were impassable.
Rescuers are also traveling along the coast as bodies are being washed away by ocean currents and many are being located several kilometers away.
Storm Megi entered the east coast of the Philippines on Sunday, causing flooding and landslides in the center and south of the country.
In total, more than 580,000 people were affected and 63 municipalities were still without electricity.
The storm, which hit the country with the most Catholics in Asia ahead of the celebration of Holy Week, surprised authorities, who signaled its arrival with the lowest level of alert.
Megi is the first major storm of the year to pass through the Philippines, which averages 20 typhoons a year.
In December, Typhoon Rai, the most powerful to hit the Philippines last year, caused at least 409 deaths.
In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyán caused about 7,000 deaths across the archipelago.