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Storm death toll climbs to 133 in Mindanao

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By Agence France-Presse

The death toll from a tropical storm in the southern Philippines climbed swiftly to 133 on Saturday, as rescuers pulled dozens of bodies from a swollen river, police said.

Tropical Storm Tembin has lashed the nation’s second-largest island of Mindanao since Friday, triggering flash floods and mudslides.

The Philippines is pummelled by 20 major storms each year on average, many of them deadly. But Mindanao, home to 20 million people, is rarely hit by these cyclones.

Rescuers retrieved 36 bodies from the Salog River in Mindanao on Saturday, as officials reported more fatalities in the impoverished Zamboanga peninsula.

The bodies were swept downriver from a flooded town upstream called Salvador, Rando Salvacion, the Sapad town police chief, told AFP. Authorities in Salvador said they had retrieved 17 other bodies upstream.

Salvador and Sapad are in Lanao del Norte, which is one of the provinces hardest hit by Tembin.

The death toll for the Zamboanga peninsula also rose to 28, and police said 81 people were missing after mud and rocks swept down coastal communities in Sibuco and other fishing towns.

Tembin struck less than a week after Tropical Storm Kai-Tak left 54 dead and 24 missing in the central Philippines.

The deadliest typhoon to hit the country was Haiyan, which killed thousands and destroyed entire towns in heavily populated areas of the central Philippines in November 2013.

Tembin is expected to hit the tip of the western island of Palawan late Saturday, the state weather service said. (AFP)