Manila: Some 304 people have died due to 40 landslides and massive flooding that occurred after typhoon Parma brought relentless rains in northern Luzon since early October, disaster officials and sources said on Monday.

Of the 304 officially recorded fatalities, half were buried by landslides in the Cordillera region, and the other half by drowning in Pangasinan and Nueva Ecija in lower northern Luzon, including upper southern Luzon's Quezon province and the Bicol Region, Olive Luces, regional director of the Office of Civil Defence -Cordillera Administrative Region (OCD-CAR), said in a radio interview.

With Parma's deaths and the 337 who perished from the floods of storm Ketsana in Metro Manila and nearby lower northern and upper southern Luzon last September 26, the death toll now stands at 731.

Landslides in northern Luzon occurred in areas without power and communication and which were isolated as sections of roads gave way since typhoon Parma made a landfall there on October 2, said Luces, adding: "Northern Luzon will be isolated for some more weeks due to extensive damages on roads and bridges due to typhoon Parma."

"More bodies are being unearthed by rescue and recovery teams who have been moving mud and rocks from hills that have collapsed," said Luces.

Further fatalities

The number of fatalities and the cost of damage to nature, infrastructure and agriculture could rise further, said provincial governors and local mayors.

"We have been clearing roads, villages, and rivers of mud, debris, and siltation, but the mountains seemed to have moved and caved in. A hill in Bulala town in the Mountain Provinces just fell over, destroying lives and houses there. The magnitude of these landslides is the first ... in recent memory," Mt Province Governor Maximo Dalog said in a TV interview.

Typhoon Parma affected 521,531 families or 2.4 million people in 3,929 villages, 351 municipalities, 34 cities in 27 provinces in eight regions in the north and south Luzon, said Glenn Rabonza, administrator of the National Disaster Coordinating Council.

Of the affected families and people, only 18,921 families or 92,312 people were placed at 206 evacuation centres, Rabonza said.

Estimated damage to infrastructure and agriculture amounted to 5 billion pesos (Dh394.6 million), said Rabonza, adding the figure included 3.9 billion pesos in damage to agriculture.

Many areas affected by Ketsana are still flooded. Some 500 evacuation centres still house 300,000 displaced residents.

Typhoon Parma and Ketsana affected over six million people, Rabonza said.