Four people died in the southern Philippines after being hit by a landslide, authorities said Thursday, taking the nationwide death toll from recent rains to at least 39. Rescuers were still searching for more than two dozen other people missing after heavy downpours over the Christmas weekend caused flooding and landslides across central and southern regions.
The latest deaths happened Wednesday in Mati City in the province of Davao Oriental on Mindanao island when a landslide buried four people as they fished, the national disaster agency said. Authorities recovered the bodies of the victims, who include two teenagers, reports BSS.
“There was a heavy downpour in the mountains. They were fishing in a river when the landslide occurred,” Mati City police chief Ernesto Gregore told AFP.
The weather turned bad over the weekend as the disaster-prone nation of 110 million people prepared for a long Christmas holiday.
Hundreds of houses have since been destroyed and more than 7,000 hectares (17,300 acres) of crops wiped out by rains that have forced tens of thousands of people into evacuation centres, the national disaster agency said.
Most of the fatalities have been in the province of Misamis Occidental, also on Mindanao, where 16 people died from drowning or rain-induced landslides. The Philippines is ranked among the most vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change, and scientists have warned that storms are becoming more powerful as the world gets warmer.