MANILA, Philippines (AP) — One of the strongest typhoons to hit the Philippines this year barreled across the country's south on Tuesday, killing at least seven people and forcing more than 50,000 to flee from inundated villages.
Typhoon Bopha slammed into the Davao region at dawn, its ferocious winds ripping roofs from homes and its 500-kilometer- (311-mile-) wide rain band flooding low-lying farmland. The storm, packing winds of 160 kilometers (99 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 195 kph (121 mph), toppled trees, triggered landslides and sent flash floods surging across the region's mountains and valleys.
In the gold-mining province of Compostela Valley, the fierce wind and rain forced a wall of mud and boulders to cascade down on a house, killing three children. Their bodies were wrapped in blankets by their grieving relatives and placed on a basketball court in Maparat village.
"The only thing we could do was to save ourselves. It was too late for us to rescue them," said Valentin Pabilana, who survived the landslide.
A soldier died and 20 villagers were missing after a flash flood raced down a mountain in Andap town, washing away a truck, according to Compostela Valley Governor Arturo Uy and military officials.
In nearby Davao Oriental, a poor agricultural and gold-mining province about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) southeast of Manila, an elderly woman was killed when her house was struck by a tree felled by howling wind, said Benito Ramos, an ex-army general who now heads the government's disaster-response agency.
A man died a few hours later when a tree knocked him down while he was traveling on a scooter on a road in Misamis Oriental province. One storm-related death was also reported on central Siquijor island, Ramos said.
He said the death toll was expected to rise once soldiers and police gain access to some far-flung villages isolated by floods, fallen trees and downed communications.