Saturday 18 November 2017

Typhoon death toll climbs to 270

Fallen coconut trees after Typhoon Bopha made landfall in Compostela Valley in south-eastern Philippines (AP/Karlos Manlupig)
Fallen coconut trees after Typhoon Bopha made landfall in Compostela Valley in south-eastern Philippines (AP/Karlos Manlupig)
Soldiers assist local residents in flooded areas of the Philippines (AP/The Philippine Army)

The death toll from a powerful typhoon in the southern Philippines has climbed to more than 270 amid fears that many more bodies could be found as rescuers reach hard-hit areas which had been isolated by landslides, floods and downed communications.

At least 151 people have died in the worst-hit province of Compostela Valley since Typhoon Bopha began lashing the region on Tuesday, including 66 villagers and soldiers who perished in a flash flood which swamped two emergency shelters and a military camp in New Bataan town, provincial spokeswoman Fe Maestre said.

About 80 people survived the deluge in New Bataan with injuries, but an unspecified number of villagers remain missing.

The farming town of 45,000 people is a muddy wasteland of collapsed houses and columns of coconut and banana trees felled by Bopha's ferocious winds.

Outside a town gymnasium, several mud-stained bodies were laid side by side, covered by cloth and banana leaves.

In nearby Davao Oriental, the coastal province first struck by the typhoon as it blew inland from the Pacific Ocean, at least 115 people died, most of them in three towns which were so battered by the wind that it was hard to find any building or house with a roof left, provincial officer Freddie Bendulo and other officials said.

Disaster-response agencies reported 13 other typhoon-related deaths elsewhere.

Unlike the previous day's turbulent weather, the sun was back on Wednesday, prompting residents to lay soiled clothes, books and other belongings out on roadsides to dry and revealing the extent of the damage to farmland.

Thousands of banana trees in one Compostela Valley plantation were toppled by the wind, the young bananas still wrapped in blue plastic covers.

After slamming into Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley, Bopha roared across southern Mindanao and central regions, knocking out power in two entire provinces, triggering landslides and leaving houses and coconut and banana plantations dishevelled. More than 170,000 fled from homes to evacuation centres.

Press Association

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