Philippine storm: Death toll hits 200, scores missing

MANILA • Rescuers in the Philippines were searching yesterday for survivors of a storm that triggered floods and landslides, killing about 200 people and leaving scores missing and thousands homeless, most of whom apparently ignored warnings to move to safety.

Tropical Storm Tembin lashed Mindanao island, home to 20 million people, on Friday with gusts of 125km an hour and torrential rain, wiping out at least one mountain village and prompting a massive rescue operation over the weekend. Police said 144 people remained missing as Tembin roared out into the South China Sea early yesterday.

A total of 70,000 people have been displaced or affected by the storm, said the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which warned that continued heavy rain could hamper the search for survivors.

Soldiers and police officers joined emergency workers and volunteers to search for survivors and victims, clear debris and restore power and communications.

Disaster officials said that many villagers had ignored warnings to leave coastal areas and move away from riverbanks, and were swept away when flash floods and landslides struck.

Local police said 135 people were killed and 72 were missing in the northern section of Mindanao, while 47 were dead and 72 missing in the impoverished Zamboanga peninsula on its western side.

Another 18 people died in the province of Lanao del Sur in the centre of the island.

One of the places hit hardest by the storm was the mountain village of Dalama, which was virtually erased from the map.

Philippine television footage showed houses destroyed or engulfed by floodwaters there and rescuers retrieving the body of a girl buried in a landslide.

Tembin struck less than a week after Tropical Storm Kai-Tak left scores dead and more than 20 missing in the central Philippines, straining the disaster-prone nation's already stretched resources.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 25, 2017, with the headline 'Philippine storm: Death toll hits 200, scores missing'. Print Edition | Subscribe