Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Wednesday | December 5, 2012
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Typhoon Bopha claims more than 43 lives
Residents walk back to their homes after Typhoon Bopha made landfall in Compostela Valley in southeastern Philippines yesterday. - AP

At least 43 villagers and soldiers drowned in a southern-Philippine town yesterday when torrents of water dumped by a powerful typhoon cascaded down a mountain, engulfing emergency shelters and an army truck, officials said. The deaths raised the toll from one of the strongest storms to hit the country this year to at least 74.

Governor Arturo Uy said rain from Typhoon Bopha accumulated atop a mountain and then burst down on Andap village in New Bataan town in hard-hit Compostela Valley province. The victims included villagers who had fled from their homes to a school and village hall, which were then swamped by the flash flood. An army truck carrying soldiers and villagers was washed away, according to Uy and army officials.

"They thought that they were already secure in a safe area, but they didn't know the torrents of water would go their way," Uy told DZBB radio.

He said the confirmed death toll in the town was likely to rise because several other bodies could not immediately be retrieved from floodwaters strewn with huge logs and debris.

Bopha slammed into Davao Oriental province region at dawn, its ferocious winds ripping roofs from homes and its 500-kilometre (310-mile) -wide rain band flooding low-lying farmland.

The storm, packing winds of 140 kilometres (87 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 170 kph (106 mph), toppled trees, triggered landslides and sent flash floods surging across the region's mountains and valleys.

Two entire provinces lost power and more than 100 domestic flights were cancelled. About 60,000 people fled to emergency shelters.

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