Workers clear a road with a fallen tree after Typhoon Bopha hit the Philippines on Tuesday.(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
MANILA, Philippines -- One of the strongest typhoons to hit the
Philippines this year barreled across the country's south on Tuesday,
killing at least seven people and forcing more than 50,000 to flee from
Typhoon Bopha slammed into the Davao region at
dawn, its ferocious winds ripping roofs from homes and its
311-mile-wide rain band flooding low-lying farmland. The storm, packing
winds of 99 miles per hour and gusts of up to 121 mph, toppled trees,
triggered landslides and sent flash floods surging across the region's
mountains and valleys.
In the gold-mining province of Compostela
Valley, the fierce wind and rain forced a wall of mud and boulders to
cascade down on a house, killing three children. Their bodies were
wrapped in blankets by their grieving relatives and placed on a
basketball court in Maparat village.
"The only thing we could do
was to save ourselves. It was too late for us to rescue them," said
Valentin Pabilana, who survived the landslide.
A soldier died and
20 villagers were missing after a flash flood raced down a mountain in
Andap town, washing away a truck, according to Compostela Valley
Governor Arturo Uy and military officials.
In nearby Davao
Oriental, a poor agricultural and gold-mining province about 620 miles
southeast of Manila, an elderly woman was killed when her house was
struck by a tree felled by howling wind, said Benito Ramos, an ex-army
general who now heads the government's disaster-response agency.
man died a few hours later when a tree knocked him down while he was
traveling on a scooter on a road in Misamis Oriental province. One
storm-related death was also reported on central Siquijor island, Ramos
He said the death toll was expected to rise once soldiers
and police gain access to some far-flung villages isolated by floods,
fallen trees and downed communications.
officer Liza Maso told The Associated Press by telephone that she was
trying to confirm an army report that a flash flood washed away a truck
carrying an undetermined number of people in New Bataan town, also in
INTERACTIVE MAP: Track Typhoon Bopha
some 20 typhoons and storms normally lash the archipelago nation
annually, the southern provinces being battered by Bopha are
unaccustomed to fierce typhoons. A rare storm that took the area by
surprise last December killed more than 1,200 people and left many more
homeless and traumatized.
Officials were taking no chances this
year, and President Benigno Aquino III made an appeal on national TV
Monday for people in Bopha's path to move to safety and take storm
"This typhoon is not a joke," Aquino said after meeting top officials in charge of disaster-response.
"But we can minimize the damage and loss of lives if we help each other," he added.
outlined preparations, including evacuations and the deployment of army
search and rescue boats in advance. Authorities also ordered small
boats and ferries not to venture out along the country's eastern
seaboard, warning of rough seas with up to 13-foot waves.
Compostela Valley, authorities halted mining operations and ordered
villagers to evacuate to prevent a repeat of deadly losses from
landslides and the collapse of mine tunnels seen in previous storms.
a Cambodian word for flower or a girl, is the 16th weather disturbance
to hit the Philippines this year. Forecasters say at least one more
storm may hit the country before Christmas.