Storm horror in ComVal: 87 dead, 300 missing


Posted at Dec 05 2012 01:55 PM | Updated as of Dec 06 2012 09:58 AM

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The death toll from typhoon "Pablo" (international codename Bopha) continued to rise Wednesday, with at least 87 people reported killed and over 300 missing in flash floods in New Bataan, Compostela Valley.

Of the 87 fatalities, 78 have been identified by their families.

Authorities also said at least 140 were injured and 22 others were rescued.

Police, meanwhile, are monitoring reports of looting in the area, after a grocery store was allegedly robbed on Wednesday.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas arrived in New Bataan Wednesday afternoon to oversee the search and rescue operations in the area.

New Bataan Mayor Lorenzo Balbin said a state of calamity has been declared in the town.

More than 250 people, including 8 soldiers, are still missing after a flash flood hit an evacuation center.

The fatalities either drowned or were crushed by toppled trees in the landslide-prone areas of Barangays Andap and Poblacion on Tuesday morning.

Scores of people were killed when rainwater gushed down from nearby slopes, creating a deadly cocktail of mud, logs and rocks that crushed everything in its path.

The small mountain pass leading to the town had been littered with fallen trees and rocks, virtually cutting it off from road traffic.

"The waters came from the mountain and the winds were so strong. Hindi ko maisip kung saan galing hangin," Balbin told radio dzMM.

Balbin urged the national government to send search and rescue teams as well as relief goods for his constituents.

Stories of Pablo’s devastation were recorded in detail by an ABS-CBN News team that reached the town.

Footage showed at least 43 bodies lined up at the town center for identification.

One resident said the strong wind knocked down a coconut tree that killed his wife.

Another resident said her daughter-in-law was trying to cross the river to reach safer ground when she was swept away by the water and drowned.

Many evacuees in government shelters are in pain and are seriously injured. Medical teams are also having problems reaching some areas due to floods and debris.

"We are hoping to fly our helicopters to conduct reconnaissance and search and recovery," said Major General Ariel Bernardo, commanding general of the 10th Infantry Division.

'Pablo' leaves 274 dead

The death toll from the typhoon jumped to 274 Wednesday with hundreds missing, as rescuers battled to reach areas cut off by floods and mudslides, officials said.

A total of 253 people died in and around the gold-rush mountain towns of New Bataan and Monkayo after Pablo let loose landslides and flash floods there, civil defense chief Benito Ramos said.

He said 21 other people were killed in other parts of the southern island of Mindanao and the central islands.

There were also 279 people still missing amid, while 339 others were treated for injuries, he said.

Pablo struck Mindanao early Tuesday, bringing driving rain and strong winds that forced 87,000 people to seek refuge in emergency shelters, according to an updated civil defense office tally.

It was the 16th storm this year to ravage the Philippines, which is hit with about 20 cyclones annually.

In December last year, Mindanao was pummeled by tropical storm “Sendong” (Washi), which killed more than 1,200 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless. -- Reports from Dennis Datu, dzMM; Agence France-Presse