Tropical storm in southern Philippines leaves over 90 dead, dozens missing

Tropical storm in southern Philippines leaves over 90 dead, dozens missing

The death toll from a tropical storm in the southern Philippines climbed swiftly to 133 on Saturday, as rescuers pulled dozens of bodies from a swollen river.

Powerful winds and relentless rains brought by Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin) triggered a flash flood in a coastal barangay in Zamboanga del Norte, leaving an undetermined number of casualties.

More than 100 people are reported to have died after tropical storm Tembin struck Mindanao island in the Philippines on Saturday (23 December).

Mayor Bong Edding of Zamboanga del Norte province's Sibuco town said by phone that a search and rescue operation was underway for more than 30 people swept away by flash floods in the fishing village of Anungan.

Floodwaters have displaced over 50, 000 people in at least three provinces, said Leoncio Cirunay, regional head of the office of civil defence (OCD).

The bodies were swept downriver from the flooded town of Salvador, Rando Salvacion, the Sapad town police chief, told AFP.

Reports of more deaths were slowly trickling in from other parts of the island, which is experiencing power and communication outages due to the storm.

"The floodwaters from the mountain came down so fast and swept away people and houses", Mr Edding said.

Tembin struck more than a week after the Philippine government voted to extend martial law on Mindanao following a year in which Islamic militants shocked the nation in taking - and holding for several months - pockets of a Muslim-majority city there.

In the town of Lanao del Norte, a landslide buried a cluster of homes in the remote town of Tubod, but officials said there had been no reports of deaths or injuries.

"It is unfortunate that another tropical cyclone, Vinta, made its presence felt so near Christmas", presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said.

Rough seas also caused a passenger ferry to capsize off Quezon province south of the Philippine capital Manila on Thursday, killing five people.

After slicing across Mindanao yesterday, Tembin sped west over the Sulu Sea with gusts of 95 kilometres an hour.

The deadliest typhoon to hit the country was Haiyan, which left 7,350 people dead and destroyed entire towns in heavily populated areas of the central Philippines in November 2013.

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