Death toll from Philippine storm, landslides climbs to 126

The storm hit central and eastern Philippine islands on December 29 and caused massive flooding and landslides. (AFP)
Updated 06 January 2019

Death toll from Philippine storm, landslides climbs to 126

  • Officials also said that many residents were reluctant to leave their homes during the Christmas holidays
  • About 20 typhoons and storms batter the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people

MANILA: The death toll from a storm that devastated the Philippines shortly after Christmas rose to 126, authorities said Sunday, adding landslides caused by torrential rain were the top cause.
The storm hit central and eastern Philippine islands on December 29 and caused massive flooding and landslides. More than 100 people died in the mountainous Bicol region southeast of Manila, regional disaster officials said.
While the Bicol region is often hit by deadly typhoons, many people failed to take necessary precautions because the storm was not strong enough to be rated as a typhoon under the government’s storm alert system, according to civil defense officials.
Officials also said that many residents were reluctant to leave their homes during the Christmas holidays.
“In two days alone, Usman poured more than a month’s worth of rainfall in the Bicol region,” national disaster agency spokesman Edgar Posadas said, using the local name for the storm which had weakened into a low-pressure area.
“Our search and retrieval operations are ongoing but the sticky mud and the unstable soil are a challenge.”
The death toll was likely to climb further with 26 people still missing, Posadas added.
More than 152,000 people were displaced by the storm and 75 were injured, according to the national disaster agency.
President Rodrigo Duterte visited the storm-hit areas on Friday and urged officials to build evacuation centers instead of using schools as shelters for the displaced.
About 20 typhoons and storms batter the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people.
The deadliest in recent years was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,360 people dead or missing across the central Philippines in 2013.


Dhaka backs ICC call for Rohingya inquiry

This combination of file photos created on November 14, 2019, shows Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (L) attending the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Bangkok on November 4, 2019 and Myanmar military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing attending the 71th anniversary of Martyrs' Day in Yangon on July 19, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 28 min 36 sec ago

Dhaka backs ICC call for Rohingya inquiry

  • Full-scale investigation will exert ‘real pressure’ on Myanmar over repatriation, experts say

DHAKA: Bangladeshi experts on Saturday welcomed the International Criminal Court’s decision to launch a full-scale investigation into Myanmar’s alleged mass persecution of the Rohingya.
Following a request from the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, earlier this year, the court on Thursday approved an inquiry into alleged atrocities carried out by Myanmar since 2016, which the UN has previously referred to as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
Delwar Hossain, director general of the East Asia wing of Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry, said the case was “very sensitive”
for Bangladesh.
“We consider the matter like the other international community. Here the ICC will conduct its investigation independently and we will not intervene or hamper their investigation process,” Hossain told Arab News.
“Earlier, too, when the ICC team visited Bangladesh to hear the plight of the Rohingya, they moved freely wherever they wanted. We have just facilitated their movements,” he added.
Prof. Akmol Hossain of Dhaka University said that as a signatory of the Rome statute, Bangladesh must comply with ICC rules and regulations, adding that, in principle, the court’s latest move is a “victory”
for Bangladesh.
“The ICC will investigate the mass persecution against Rohingyas on its own. Gambia has filed the case from international responsibility. Now it is primarily established that injustices were made to the Rohingya in Myanmar,” Hossain said.
“When the full-scale investigation against Myanmar begins, it will create a lot pressure on the country. Bangladesh needs to continue its diplomatic efforts among the international community to build more pressure on Myanmar which may create some opportunities for a sustainable Rohingya repatriation,” he added.
Former Ambassador Rashed Ahmed Chowdhury said the ICC’s decision was “a most welcoming development.”
Myanmar will never accept the Rohingya if the issue remains unresolved, he said.
“This is the real pressure on Myanmar and it will bring some solutions,” Chowdhury said.
“Now international law will take its own course to investigate the genocide. It is difficult to foresee what will happen, but it is a major
development.”
Bangladesh is currently hosting almost 1.2 million Rohingya at the squalid refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, which is considered the world’s largest refugee settlement.
Since August 2017, more than 750,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape persecution in their homeland.
The UN has said that attacks on the Rohingya had a “genocidal intent.”