The death toll from a powerful storm that hit the southern Philippines is continuing to rise, as rescue teams headed for affected areas.
The disaster watchdog said 95 people died when Typhoon Bopha struck Mindanao on Tuesday, but reports citing local officials put the number at over 200.
In Andap village in Compostela Valley province, dozens of people were killed in flash floods that hit two buildings.
Many more died in flooding or collapses in neighbouring Davao Oriental. Tens of thousands were evacuated ahead of the storm, which is now passing over the western island of Palawan. It is expected to move out into the South China Sea on Thursday.
‘Torrents of water’
In Andap village, in the east of Mindanao island, water and mud rushed down mountainous slopes to engulf a school and a village hall serving as evacuation centres. At least 43 people were killed, with more reported missing and injured – including soldiers sent to help with evacuations.
“They thought that they were already secure in a safe area, but they didn’t know the torrents of water would go their way,” Compostela Valley Provincial Governor Arturo Uy told local media. A road into the town was blocked by debris, reports said, but the military said it was hoping to get helicopters into the area to assess the situation.
Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said body bags and other emergency supplies would be rushed to affected areas. ”The bodies are left lying on the ground in the open in New Bataan and we don’t want to risk the spread of disease,” she told Agence-France Presse news agency.
Compostela Valley province was said to be the hardest-hit area. Neighbouring Davao Oriental province was also badly affected, with reports of about 50 people killed. Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon said roads to dozens of towns were impassable because of fallen trees and collapsed bridges, telling local media getting into them was like “running an obstacle course”.
She said initial reports indicated that in one town, Cateel, 95% of buildings had been damaged. Twenty-three people had drowned or were buried under fallen trees or buildings there, she said. Across the affected provinces, rescuers have also pulled out dozens of people from the mud, many of whom are now being treated in evacuation centres and hospitals. Most suffered facial wounds or limb injuries.