Typhoon Mangkhut battered northern Philippines on Sept. 15, with the strength of a Category 5 hurricane and caused widespread destruction. Mangkhut, the strongest storm so far this year, has already killed at least 81 people in the Philippines and affected around 5.7 million people with winds going 150 miles per hour. Distributing necessary supplies to the hardest-hit areas became a deep concern.
According to the New York Times (NYT), the eye of Mangkhut, known as Ompong in the Philippines, made landfall on the northern island of Luzon, the country’s rice and corn growing heartland. Fallen trees and rolling coconuts were found along most roads. Signs, tin roofs and gates that had been torn free flew about. Buildings were badly damaged. “This was the strongest and the worst storm that I’ve ever experienced in my life,” said Teresita Antonio, a resident. “I was crying before because I don’t know how I will be able to afford to fix my house.”
In the village of Itogon, a mudslide crushed a church and a bunk for miners. Forty-three bodies were recovered on the morning of Sept. 17. When their bunkhouse was swept away, these gold miners, most children, perished operating an illegal mine. Some of them were children. The mine should have been closed in the 1990s for environmental degradation. However, the prospectors claimed that they had permission from Benguet Corp., the company that previously operated the mine, to work the abandoned mine, a claim company denied, reported the NYT. The search was delayed by the exceedingly wet ground, and rescuers could only use shovels and their bare hands to dig through the mud and look for bodies. At the scene of the landslide in Itogon, searchers had compiled a list of 61 people believed missing and presumed dead, according to the NYT.
Crises also occurred in other cities. Manila, the capital of Philippines, was buffeted by strong wind and heavy rain. Trees were uprooted. Marikina River, a river in eastern Metro Manila, flooded through part of the city and rose quickly. More than 1,600 families were evacuated in this flood and the body of a 10-year-old child was found floating in the river, reported The Washington Post.
“I share the grief of those who lost their loved ones,” said Rodrigo Duterte, the president of Philippines.