A Philippine police officer who tried to persuade residents of a mining camp to move to safety as a powerful typhoon approached on Tuesday said they refused to leave and a day later the storm triggered a huge landslide that buried dozens of people.
Police Senior Inspector Heherson Zambale said in an interview that he was stunned after learning that the massive landslide had covered a chapel and bunkhouses in the mountain village where he and other officials had met with some of the victims a day before the tragedy struck on Saturday last week.
Typhoon Mangkhut, the most powerful storm to hit the Philippines this year, left at least 81 people dead and dozens of others missing, mostly in the avalanche in the gold-mining town of Itogon in Benguet province.
The storm later blew on to Hong Kong and southern China, where it caused more deaths and damage.
Zambale said he and other local officials tried to convince the villagers, mostly small-scale miners and their families, to move to an evacuation center as the typhoon approached.
A villager officer who accompanied Zambale used a megaphone to warn people that Mangkhut was extraordinarily powerful and everybody should leave, he said.
The villagers told the police officer that they thought the chapel and nearby bunkhouses were on stable ground, and that they would only move away if the storm became severe, he said.
Zambale said he saw about 15 villagers outside the chapel and bunkhouses.
“Some were smiling and there were some who were just quiet. Some were listening to us,” he said.
Police photographs showed the officers in hard hats and light green raincoats talking with the villagers outside of what appears to be the concrete chapel and nearby bunkhouse, with piles of sandbags nearby.
Part of the mountain slope, covered in green foliage, can be seen behind the buildings.
Zambale, who has battled insurgents and criminals for eight years, said he had a bad feeling about the clearing where the buildings stood near a river, surrounded by tall mountains.
Some villagers heeded the warnings and left before the typhoon struck.
“But many were left behind,” Zambale said.
Rescuers have recovered 14 bodies from the avalanche and at least 58 other people remain missing, he said.
Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan on Monday said it was unlikely any of the missing were still alive, although rescuers continued to search.
Police Commander Rolando Nana said a special police unit scanned the landslide-hit area with radar that can detect heartbeats, but found no sign of life.
As more than 300 rescuers, including police and soldiers, used shovels and picks to search for the missing, Zambale said he still remembers the faces of the villagers he tried to convince to flee.
“I really feel sad, I cannot describe the emotion,” he said. “It’s not only the people who don’t listen. They have children, wives, elderly parents who will all suffer.”
North Korea yesterday made a rare mention of dissenting votes in recent elections, although analysts dismissed it as an attempt to portray an image of a normal society rather than signaling any meaningful increase of rights in the authoritarian state. The reclusive country has one of the most highly controlled societies in the world, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un accused of using a system of patronage and repression to retain absolute power. Reporting on the results of Sunday’s election for deputies to regional people’s assemblies, the North’s state media said that 0.09 percent and 0.13 percent voted against the selected candidates
WEATHER PROBLEM: Seoul said the launch, which comes after the North said its new spy satellite is taking images of US military facilities, was rescheduled for Saturday South Korea has delayed the planned launch of its first military spy satellite set for tomorrow, officials said, days after rival North Korea said it had put its own spy satellite into orbit for the first time. Under a contract with SpaceX, South Korea is to launch five spy satellites by 2025, and its first launch using SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket had been scheduled to take place at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base in the US. The South Korean Ministry of National Defense yesterday said in a brief statement that the launch was delayed due to weather conditions. Ministry officials said the
ECONOMICS? ECONOMICS? The new prime minister said that taxing cigarette sales would contribute revenue, while banning them would create a flourishing black market New Zealand’s plans for world-leading anti-smoking laws are to be revoked, Christopher Luxon confirmed yesterday after being sworn in as prime minister, in a move described as a “huge win for the tobacco industry.” Former airline boss Luxon took over six weeks after his conservative National Party won national elections, ending a six-year Labour Party reign ushered in by former prime minister Jacinda Ardern. Luxon, 53, was sworn in as head of a new coalition government by New Zealand Governor-General Cindy Kiro in a ceremony in the capital, Wellington. “It is an honor and an awesome responsibility,” Luxon told reporters. The conservative said he
ELECTION INTERFERENCE: Meta did not publicly link the account network to the Chinese government, but said it is based in China and sought to inflate divisions within the US Someone in China created thousands of fake social media accounts designed to appear to be from Americans and used them to spread polarizing political content in an apparent effort to divide the US ahead of next year’s presidential elections, Meta said on Thursday. The network of about 4,800 fake accounts was attempting to build an audience when it was identified and eliminated by the tech company, which owns Facebook and Instagram. The accounts sported fake photos, names and locations as a way to appear like everyday American Facebook users weighing in on political issues. Instead of spreading fake content as other networks