By: Agence France-Presse
The death toll from a tropical storm that struck the southern Philippines has risen to 44 as mudslides wiped out a mountain village and ravaged another town, officials said Saturday.
Nineteen deaths were reported near the town of Tubod on Friday on Mindanao, the archipelago nation’s second-largest island, where Tropical Storm Tembin unleashed flash floods and mudslides that erased a remote village from the map, police said.
“The river rose and most of the homes were swept away. The village is no longer there,” Tubod police officer Gerry Parami told AFP by telephone.
Police, soldiers and volunteers used shovels to dig through mud and debris in a bid to recover bodies in Dalama, a farming village of about 2,000 people near Tubod, Parami added.
Boulders brought down by flash floods also buried around 40 houses in the town of Piagapo, killing at least 10 people, civil defence officer Saripada Pacasum told AFP.
“We’ve sent rescuers but they’re making little progress due to the rocks,” he said.
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.
Eight other people were killed by floods elsewhere on Lanao del Sur province, Pacasum said.
Police said three people each died from landslides in the provinces of Bukidnon and Zamboanga Sibugay, while one fatality was also reported in Iligan city.
Four people were listed as missing after being buried in landslides or being swept away by floodwaters, while more than 12,000 have fled their homes, they added.
After slicing across Mindanao on Friday, Tembin sped west over the Sulu Sea with gusts of 95 kilometres an hour.
It was forecast to smash into the tip of the western island of Palawan late Saturday, the state weather service said.
Tembin struck less than a week after Tropical Storm Kai-Tak devastated the central Philippines, leaving 54 dead and 24 missing.
The deadliest typhoon to hit the country was Haiyan, which left 7,350 people dead and destroyed entire towns in heavily populated areas of the central Philippines in November 2013.