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Asia-pacific

Philippines death toll from Typhoon Bopha climbs

Video by Catherine VIETTE

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-12-05

At least 230 people have been killed after Typhoon Bopha, the most powerful typhoon to hit the Philippines this year, devastated one of the archipelago's southern islands, before heading north toward the touristic Palawan on Wednesday.

The Philippines’ strongest typhoon this year was headed towards tourist destinations on Wednesday after hitting a southern island, destroying homes, causing landslides and killing at least 230 people, but many more are reported dead and missing.

Typhoon Bopha, with central winds of 120 kph (75 mph) and gusts of up to 160 kph (93 mph), was expected to hit beach resorts and dive spots in northern Palawan, the weather bureau said on Wednesday.

Local government officials confirmed around 230 people had died and scores were missing after Bopha made landfall on Tuesday.

FRANCE 24's

But the toll is likely to be closer to 100 with police and media reports of other deaths still to be confirmed.

About 20 typhoons hit the Philippines annually, often causing death and destruction. Typhoon Washi killed 1,500 people in 2011.

More than half those confirmed killed, many buried under mud and collapsed houses, were from an area near an army outpost in Compostela Valley province on southern Mindanao.

“We have already accounted 43 bodies and we’re still looking for more, including nine soldiers,” said Major-General Ariel Bernardo, an army division commander.

Buried under mud

Bernardo said two dozen people had been pulled from under layers of mud and were being treated in local hospitals. Video showed dozens of bloodied survivors, their faces covered with thick cake of mud, at a shelter in the province.

Mudslides and massive flooding caused by swollen rivers inundated most farms in Compostela Valley.

“In the town of Nabunturan, our farms were totally wiped out, there was flooding in every barangay (village),” police Major Hector Grijaldo. “All banana plantations were totally wiped out. What we see standing are coconut trees, all others were either uprooted or felled.”

Coastal areas in nearby Davao Oriental province also bore the brunt of Bopha’s fierce winds and rain.

Rommil Mitra, provincial police chief, said 52 people were reported killed in Boston and Cateel towns, most of them crushed by fallen tress, collapsed homes and flying debris.

“The winds were really very strong,” Mitra said. “I was told the force of the wind could even lift an army truck loaded with troops from the ground.”

Most of the affected areas remained isolated due to power outages, lack of communications and destroyed roads and bridges. Helicopters were ferrying troops in search and rescue operations.

Tens of thousands of people remained in temporary shelter areas as local officials appealed for food, water and warm clothes for displaced families. Schools remained closed and dozens of domestic flights were suspended on Wednesday.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2012-12-05

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