MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - At least 80 people have died in Mindanao from the onslaught of Typhoon Pablo (international name Bopha), authorities said Tuesday.
In New Bataan town in Compostela Valley, at least 43 people died when flash floods swept away an Army patrol base, a landslide hit a community, and trees fell on people.
"I’ve counted 43 bodies on the floor," ABS-CBN News Southern Mindanao reporter Vina Araneta told ANC by telephone.
Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, spokesman of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, confirmed the deaths.
He said 23 others were injured while 6 soldiers remain missing.
Paniza said he has no confirmed information yet on the number of missing civilians in the Compostela Valley tragedy.
Compostela Valley Governor Arturo Uy said local officials told him earlier in the day that 34 people were killed in New Bataan.
"It’s possible they have found more bodies," Uy told ANC.
"Ang unang balita, may biglang isang malaking bugso ng tubig galing sa bundok na di nila inasahan," he said.
"Nag-request na po ako ng chopper sa Army. Nanawagan rin ako na whatever assistance maibigay — rescue equipment," he added.
Benito Ramos, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), told ANC he has no information yet on the Compostela Valley tragedy.
He said they are still verifying the reports.
The typhoon has also killed at least 29 people in Davao Oriental province, police said Tuesday.
Twenty-three people died in Cateel town alone because of a flash flood caused by a storm surge, provincial police director Supt. Romil Mitra said.
He said 95 others were injured.
Initial reports said an evacuation center collapsed in the town.
Three were killed in Caraga, and 3 died in Banganga, Tarragona, and Manay, according to Mitra.
Deaths in Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur
Three people also died in Surigao del Sur, according to police chief Supt. Ranier Perlas.
One of the fatalities, 68-year-old Rosita Amundio, died when a coconut tree fell on her house.
Two were killed in Lingig, near Surigao del Sur’s boundary with Davao Oriental.
Five people also died in Trento town in Agusan del Sur, according to radio dzMM’s Noel Alamar.
"I was able to penetrate Bislig City, Lingig in Surigao Sur. Site of destruction. People need help here," Alamar said on Twitter Tuesday night.
More than 53,000 in emergency shelters
As night fell and the typhoon continued its onslaught in Mindanao, fears rose that the toll could rise sharply as the strongest storm to hit the country this year brought scenes of devastation.
On Tuesday, Typhoon Pablo brought driving rain and packed gusts of up to 210 kilometers an hour, toppling trees and power lines, causing flashfloods and forcing more than 50,000 to seek refuge in emergency shelters.
The cyclone, which had weakened after making landfall, headed for the Sulu Sea in the late afternoon, changing course westward, state weather bureau PAGASA said.
Winds blew roofs off some buildings and residents of coastal and low-lying communities in Mindanao moved into shelters as floods hit some areas.
Television footage also showed logs being swept down Mindanao’s Sumilao river, and utility workers cutting up fallen trees that were blocking highways.
More than 53,000 people had moved into nearly 1,000 government shelters by early Tuesday, the NDRRMC said.
Television footage showed large numbers of people lying on mats or cardboard sheets on the concrete floors of gyms.
A total of 145 flights to and from Mindanao and the central islands had been grounded since Monday night and more than 3,000 ferry passengers were stranded as vessels were ordered to stay in port, the civil defence office said.
Large parts of Mindanao, which is not normally hit by typhoons, were without electricity after power was cut to reduce the risk of fires and electrocutions, said Liza Mazo, a regional civil defense official.
People living in the path of the storm did what they could to protect their homes and possessions.
"We have taken our pigs and chickens inside our house because their shed might be destroyed," 46-year-old shopkeeper Marianita Villamor from the southern farming town of San Fermin said.
In Cagayan de Oro city, where giant waves crashed down on the shoreline, Mayor Vicente Emano told ABS-CBN News that police rounded up all residents of low-lying areas and moved them to government shelters.
In Tagum city, hotel waiter Edgie Atilano, 23, said he and his family hunkered down in their home as Pablo bore down.
"At 3:00 am, we were woken by strong rain and howling winds. Trees and branches started snapping off near the house," he said. "This is my first time to experience a strong typhoon. It was a bit scary." - with reports from Vina Araneta and Paul Palacio, ABS-CBN News Southern Mindanao; Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News; Noel Alamar, dzMM; ANC; Agence France-Presse