At least 43 people were feared dead, including soldiers on board an Army truck that was overturned in New Bataan, Compostela Valley by a flash flood triggered by strong rains brought by super typhoon “Pablo.”
The strongest storm to hit the country this year also forced more than 50,000 to seek refuge in emergency shelters, government officials said Compostela Valley Gov. Arturo Uy said the drowned soldiers were reportedly en route to assist in evacuation operations.
Typhoon Pablo made landfall on Mindanao at dawn, bringing driving rain and packing gusts of up to 210 kilometers an hour that toppled trees and brought down power lines.
Six people were killed, including an elderly woman who was crushed to death when a tree fell on her house, rescue officials said, without identifying the other five or saying how they had died.
Four fishermen were also reported missing off Mindanao’s east coast, said Freddie Bendulo, planning and development officer of Davao Oriental province.
By early afternoon, the typhoon had slowed and weakened somewhat with top gusts of 195 kilometers an hour, the state weather service said.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Undersecretary Benito Ramos said the storm had altered course and was expected to hit the Visayas islands of Bohol, Negros and the popular tourist resort island of Cebu.
Hundreds of people are killed each year by the 20 or so tropical cyclones that hit the Philippines, but Ramos said the low casualties so far from Bopha (international code name) were down to government efforts to move people to safety.
“So far, casualties have been minimal. We attribute this to the cooperation of our people and the efforts of local officials,” he told reporters.
Winds blew roofs off some buildings and residents of coastal and low-lying communities in Mindanao moved into shelters as floods hit some areas, according to residents and AFP reporters.
More than 53,000 people had moved into nearly 1,000 government shelters by early Tuesday, the civil defense office said.
A total of 145 flights to and from Mindanao and the central islands had been grounded since Monday night and more than 3,000 ferry passengers were stranded as vessels were ordered to stay in port, the civil defence office said.
Large parts of Mindanao, which is not normally hit by typhoons, were without electricity after power was cut to reduce the risk of fires and electrocutions, said Liza Mazo, a regional civil defence official.