24 Dec 2017

Hundreds missing, dead after Philippines storm

8:30 am on 24 December 2017

More than 180 people are reported to have been killed as a tropical storm swept through the southern Philippines, with dozens more missing.

Policemen ecavuate a baby in Cagayan City on Friday 22 December 2017, after the Cagayan River swelled from heavy rains brought by Tropical Storm Tembin.

Policemen ecavuate a baby in Cagayan City on Friday, after the Cagayan River swelled from heavy rains brought by Tropical Storm Tembin. Photo: AFP PHOTO / Messan ANNAM

Storm Tembin brought flash flooding and mudslides to parts of Mindanao island.

Two towns badly hit were Tubod and Piagapo, where a number of homes were buried by boulders.

Tembin, with winds of up to 80km/h (50 mph), has passed across Mindanao and reached the resort island of Palawan, and will now move further west.

The Philippines suffers regularly from deadly tropical storms, although Mindanao is not often hit.

Tembin, known as Vinta in the Philippines, started lashing Mindanao on Friday, with a state of emergency declared in some parts, including the Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur regions.

An aerial image taken by a drone of the city of Cagayan de Oro on the Philippines' island of Mindanao on Friday, after the area was struck by Tropical Storm Tembin.

An aerial image taken by a drone of the city of Cagayan de Oro on the Philippines' island of Mindanao on Friday, after the area was struck by Tropical Storm Tembin. Photo: AFP PHOTO/COURTESY OF PROJECT LUPAD

Regional officials quoted by the Rappler website said there were 127 fatalities in Lanao del Norte, up to 50 in the Zamboanga peninsula and at least 18 in Lanao del Sur.

Tubod police officer Gerry Parami told AFP there had been at least 19 deaths in the town, which is in Lanao del Norte. The remote village of Dalama was wiped out by flash floods.

"The river rose and most of the homes were swept away. The village is no longer there," he said.

He said volunteers were digging through mud to try to recover bodies in the village.

Another official told AFP at least 10 people had died in the town of Piagapo, 10km east of Tubod.

"We've sent rescuers but they're making little progress due to the rocks," Saripada Pacasum said.

Residents in the flood-hit town of Salvador, Lanao del Norte province, Philippines yesterday after Tropical Storm Tembin swept through the region.

Residents in the flood-hit town of Salvador, Lanao del Norte province, Philippines yesterday after Tropical Storm Tembin swept through the region. Photo: AFP / Jeoffrey Maitem / Anadolu Agency

More deaths were reported in the towns of Sibuco and Salug.

Power cuts and the loss of communication lines have hampered rescue efforts.

Andrew Morris, from the UN children's agency Unicef in Mindanao, said in some areas there were big risks for disease, particularly for children, and restoring clean water supplies would be a priority.

"Lanao del Sur province is the poorest in the Philippines, and in the past seven months there have been around 350,000 people displaced in that province because of fighting," he told the BBC, referring to battles between government forces and Islamist militants in Marawi.

"So the priority yesterday and this morning has really been to check their situation."

Storm Tembin made a second landfall on Palawan and is forecast to travel west, south of the Spratly Islands, reaching southern Vietnam in about three days.

A week ago, Tropical Storm Kai-Tak hit the central Philippines, killing dozens.

The region is still recovering from Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 5000 people and affected millions in 2013.

- BBC

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