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Typhoon kills at least 42

Dec. 4, 2012 at 11:13 PM   |   Comments

MANILA, Philippines, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Typhoon Bopha killed dozens and left a wide swath of destruction on southern Philippines' Mindanao Island as it targeted the country's other regions Wednesday.

The extremely dense and powerful storm, which made landfall Tuesday on Mindanao with sustained wind speeds of 110 miles per hour, unleashed heavy rains that set off deadly flash floods and landslides leaving at least 42 people dead, another 24 missing and blew away homes and drove tens of thousands of people into shelters, the Inquirer reported, quoting local officials and civil defense authorities. Most of the deaths were in a mountainous region of New Bataan.

The Philippine Star, quoting the military, said at least 43 bodies including that of a solider had been recovered in New Bataan.

Other reports gave a much higher death toll.

Many people were also injured but the exact number was not available.

Rescue efforts were being hampered by flooding and power outages. A landslide in eastern Mindanao blocked a national highway, stranding hundreds in buses, vans and cars, officials said.

More than 50,000 people had been accommodated in about 1,000 evacuation centers across Mindanao, the Star reported, quoting the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The Inquirer said the Category 5 storm, locally called Pablo, sent roofs flying, uprooted acres of coconut trees, and sent rivers and streams bursting over their banks.

In the capital Manila, located on the northernmost Luzon Island, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said a command post of an infantry battalion in New Bataan was washed away in flash flooding, the Inquirer said. The report quoted an infantry division commander as saying on telephone that six soldiers were missing.

Arturo Uy, governor of nearby Compostela Valley province, was quoted as telling GMA TV that at least 33 people drowned in New Bataan town.

The Inquirer said the 24 people reported missing were from the Davao Oriental province, where the typhoon made landfall.

"Everything is gone -- houses, crops," said a teacher in storm-hit Baganga, which faces the Pacific Ocean.

Schools were closed in many cities, and dozens of flights were canceled, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management said. More than 3,000 travelers were stuck at ports because ferry service was disrupted.

The Philippine News Agency said Bopha was weakening as it moved toward Northern Palawan Wednesday but several areas along its path remained under public storm warning signals. The storm's diameter had decreased to about 250 miles.

The storm was forecast to move west northwest at about 15 miles per hours and was expected to exit the Philippines through the West Philippine Sea by Thursday afternoon.

The Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development field offices along the path of the typhoon were ready to extend relief assistance, the Philippine Information Agency reported.

Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III was closely monitoring the situation and directing various government agencies to strengthen the disaster mitigation and prevention strategies, the presidential office said.

In December of last year, Tropical Storm Washi, known in the Philippines as Sendong, killed more than 1,200 people on Mindanao, CNN reported.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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