Sunday 21 January 2018

Killer storm smashes Philippines

A satelllite view of typhoon Bopha moving toward the Philippines (AP)
A satelllite view of typhoon Bopha moving toward the Philippines (AP)

More than 40 people have drowned in a Philippine town after torrents of water dumped by a powerful typhoon cascaded down a mountain, engulfing emergency shelters.

The deaths raised the toll from one of the strongest storms to hit the country this year to at least 74.

Rain from Typhoon Bopha accumulated on top of a mountain and then burst down on Andap village in New Bataan town in hard-hit Compostela Valley province. The victims included villagers who had fled from their homes to a school and village hall, which were then swamped by the flash flood. An army truck carrying soldiers and villagers was also washed away.

Bopha slammed into the southern Davao Oriental province region at dawn, its ferocious winds ripping roofs from homes and its rain flooding low-lying farmland.

The storm, packing winds of 100 mph toppled trees, triggered landslides and sent flash floods surging across the region's mountains and valleys.

Two entire provinces lost power and more than 100 domestic flights were cancelled. About 60,000 people fled to emergency shelters.

The dead included three children who were buried by a wall of mud and boulders that plunged down a mountain in Marapat village, also in Compostela Valley. "The only thing we could do was to save ourselves. It was too late for us to rescue them," said Valentin Pabilana, who survived the landslide.

In Davao Oriental, a poor agricultural and gold-mining province, 23 people drowned or were hit by trees and the death toll was expected to rise once soldiers and police gained access to villages isolated by floods, fallen trees and downed communications.

While some 20 typhoons and storms normally lash the archipelago nation annually, the southern provinces battered by Bopha are unaccustomed to fierce typhoons, which normally hit the northern and central Philippines.

Bopha, a Cambodian word for flower or a girl, is the 16th weather disturbance to hit the Philippines this year. Forecasters say at least one more may strike the country before Christmas.

Press Association

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