Manila: At least 43 villagers and soldiers drowned in a southern Philippine town Tuesday 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.
Gov 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-kilometer wide rain band flooding low-lying farmland.
The storm, packing winds of 140 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 170 kph 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 canceled. About 60,000 people fled to emergency shelters.
Twenty-three people drowned or were pinned by fallen trees or collapsed houses in Davao Oriental province`s coastal town of Cateel, which had the most deaths after New Bataan, Davao Oriental Gov Corazon Malanyaon told the ABS-CBN TV network, citing police reports.
Some towns in the province were so battered that no roofs remained on buildings, Malanyaon said.
The other deaths included three children who were buried by a wall of mud and boulders that plunged down a mountain in Marapat village, also in Compostela Valley. Their bodies were wrapped in blankets by their grieving relatives and placed on a stage in a basketball court.