Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr on Tuesday conducted an aerial inspection over a southern province hit by landslides triggered by tropical storm Nalgae that killed 110 people.
More than 100 people were injured and 33 were still missing as a result of widespread flooding and multiple landslides, the disaster agency said.
About 2.4 million individuals were affected by Nalgae and related flooding, including 866,000 forced to flee homes, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said on Tuesday. Agriculture losses are estimated at 1.3 billion pesos ($22.4 million) while the cost of damaged infrastructure is about 760 million pesos, it said.
Nalgae is headed for southern China after damaging $22 million worth of farm goods and $13 million worth of infrastructure, government data showed. It is the second-most destructive storm to hit the Philippines so far this year, after tropical storm Megi killed 214 people in April.
Marcos on Tuesday ordered officials to distribute relief packs faster and called for better preparation ahead of four more tropical storms forecast by the weather agency before the end of the year.
"When we were doing aerial inspection, I noticed that landslides occurred in denuded mountains and that was the problem," said Marcos, who also visited an evacuation centre in Maguindanao province.
Most of the casualties from Nalgae, the country's 14th cyclone this year, were in the southern autonomous region of Bangsamoro because of rain-induced landslides in deforested areas.
The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,600 islands, sees an average 20 typhoons a year, with frequent landslides and floods blamed on the growing intensity of tropical cyclones due to climate change.
Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum said the nation must brace itself for more intense tropical cyclones due to climate change, noting that their actual impact will depend partly on several factors including risk management.
“If we look at the long-term trend, yes, indeed, tropical cyclones will get stronger, but we have to separate the character of the typhoon versus the exposure,” Solidum said in a phone interview. “Independently, the typhoon can have very strong winds or can carry with it a lot of rain but how the impact will be is dependent on the exposure, the number of people, the area, the preparedness, or the vulnerability.”
Scientists say climate change will cause more extreme rainfall, which can trigger worse floods. But flooding can also be exacerbated by the shallowing of the rivers and the denuding of upland areas that lead to deadly mudslides, Solidum said.
“In the long term, the land use will be critical,” the nation’s chief scientist said. “We need to restrict where our people should be staying because otherwise every time there’s extreme rain, for sure their lives will be placed at risk.”