x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Typhoon 'miracle survivor' rescued after being trapped for two days

Survivor rescued after being trapped for two days under rocks and debris in flash floods that swept away his entire family and their farming hamlet.

NEW BATAAN, Philippines // A Philippines typhoon "miracle survivor" was rescued yesterday after being trapped for two days under rocks and debris in flash floods that swept away his entire family and their farming hamlet.

Slathered in mud and teary-eyed, Carlos Agang recounted how a small community of banana and coconut farmers was obliterated as Typhoon Bopha unleashed a wall of water after making landfall on southern Mindanao island on Tuesday.

"It's a miracle that I survived, but I might as well be dead," the 54-year-old told reporters as aid workers carried him off on a stretcher with a broken leg to be airlifted to hospital.

Typhoon Bopha ploughed across Mindanao, flattening whole towns in its 700-kilometre wide path with a deadly blend of hurricane-force winds, floods and landslides, leaving nearly 200,000 homeless and more than 300 dead.

The typhoon triggered flash floods which carried away Mr Agang's mountainside home outside New Bataan along with him, his wife and four children.

The floodwaters deposited him downstream in a boulder-strewn field, where he lay pinned down for two days by rocks and debris.

"I was shouting for help all the time, but no one came. I don't know what happened to (my family). Perhaps they are all dead," said Mr Agang, who was finally rescued by local residents early yesterday.

Rescuers were still depositing unidentified corpses at a government yard in the centre of town yesterday, near a gymnasium packed with scores of homeless typhoon victims lying on mats on the wet, muddy floor.

Shell-shocked survivors scrabbled through the rubble to find anything that could be recovered, as relatives searched for missing family members among the newly arrived body bags delivered by soldiers.

"We expect to retrieve more bodies today," said Francisco Macalipay, a Philippine army soldier who commanded the lorry delivering the bodies.

He said rescuers were struggling to reach villages amid the destroyed roads and wrecked bridges, but finding corpses was hardly a problem.

"Just let your nose lead you to them," he said referring to the overpowering stench of dead bodies everywhere.

Rescuers were also digging through the rubble of the town's clinic to try to find medicines and medical equipment that could be used, but instead found another corpse.

"In a week's time I'm sure the smell of death will force the survivors to flee the town," Macalipay said.