'Pablo' death toll nears 100

Posted at 12/05/12 11:11 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Nearly 100 people have died in the aftermath of Typhoon Pablo (international codename Bopha) Wednesday, with at least 66 killed in a flash flood in Compostela Valley.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas said the death toll from Pablo was at 82, with at least 33 people killed in Cateel, Baganga and Boston towns in Davao Oriental.

He said another 49 fatalities were reported in New Bataan town in Compostela Valley after a flash flood washed away a small Army detachment and the town center.

However, a report from radio dzMM correspondent Dennis Datu said the death toll in New Bataan was now at 66, with 230 people still missing and 109 injured. This would put the death toll at 99.

Twenty of the fatalities have been identified, the dzMM report said.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council had a lower death toll of 77 in the aftermath of typhoon Pablo. NDRRMC executive director Benito Ramos explained that the discrepancy in reporting of the number of casualties is natural since the NDRRMC practices verification of the reports coming from the ground.

He expects the death toll to further rise as more local governments and military officials report landslides and flashflood incidents.

Ramos, without giving a figure, said most of the fatalities came from Compostela Valley. The other fatalities were from Davao Oriental, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Siquijor.

Officials said the flashfloods and landslides in Compostela Valley occurred in Barangays Andap and Poblacion on Tuesday morning.

Most of the victims drowned in floods, while some were hit by debris and falling trees caused by strong winds.The fatalities included children and infants.

Reports said the flashfloods occurred Tuesday morning, but the bodies were retrieved in the afternoon because rescuers had difficulty entering the area due to impassable roads.

Flood waters reportedly rushed from the mountain ranges, explaining the thick mud covering most parts of the town.

At least 5 soldiers have  been reported missing after their group, which was on its way to serve in rescue and evacuation efforts, was swept away by floods. One of the soldiers, identified as Staff Sgt. Maximo Olivarez, drowned. With reports from ANC, radio dzMM and Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com