Typhoon Bopha lashes Philippines
Typhoon Bopha killed at least six people in the Philippines on Tuesday as the strongest storm to hit the country, this year, forced more than 50,000 to seek refuge in emergency shelters.
Bopha, which made landfall on the island of Mindanao in the south of the country at dawn, brought with it driving rain and packed gusts of up to 210 kilometres (130 miles) an hour causing trees and utility poles to topple over.
Six people were killed, including an elderly woman who was crushed to death when a tree fell on her house, rescue officials said, without identifying the other five or saying how they had died.
Four fishermen were also reported missing off Mindanao’s east coast, said Freddie Bendulo, planning and development officer of the Davao Oriental province.
By early afternoon, the typhoon had slowed and weakened somewhat with top gusts of 195 kilometres an hour, according to the state weather service.
Civil defence chief Benito Ramos said the storm had altered course and was expected to hit the central islands of Bohol, Negros, and the popular tourist resort island of Cebu, later on Tuesday.
Hundreds of people are killed each year by the 20-or-so tropical cyclones that hit the Philippines, but Ramos said the low casualties so far from Bopha were down to government efforts to move people to safety.
“So far, casualties have been minimal […] we attribute this to the cooperation of our people and the efforts of local officials,” he told reporters, earlier today.
More than 53,000 people had moved into nearly 1,000 government shelters by early Tuesday, according to AFP and local civil defence offices.
UPDATE 08:04 ET: A Philippine governor, Arturo Uy, says at least 33 people were killed by flash flooding in New Bataan, Compostela Valley, bringing the death toll (as of 08:04 ET) to at least 40.
IMAGE COURTESY OF NASA
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