Deadly flooding and landslides hit the Philippines

Rescue workers fear number of casualties will increase as Tropical Storm Tembin slams southern island of Mindanao.

The death toll from Tropical Storm Tembin in southern Philippines has risen to at least 200 people with hundreds more missing, according to officials and aid agencies. 

Rescue efforts are under way after the storm lashed the country’s second largest island, Mindanao on Friday, triggering mudslides and flash floods.

Aid workers fear the number of casualties will further increase as forecasters predict more heavy rains. 

“We’re really on our toes right now,” Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippines Red Cross told Al Jazeera on Saturday.

“We’re trying to figure out how to give help to so many people that are really in danger.”

Most of the deaths caused by Tembin, known locally as Vinta, were reported in the provinces of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, as well as on the Zamboanga peninsula.

At least 62 people were killed in the hardest-hit province, Lanao del Norte, where floodwaters swept away an entire village on Friday, according to media reports.

The flash floods that hit the remote farming village of Dalama in the Tubod region washed away more than 100 houses, killing at least 18 people, the news website Rappler said.

At least 27 people were still reported missing there on Saturday night.

“The rains caused the Cabuyo River to overflow. The flood came with big rocks and uprooted trees. It wiped out a community composed of 103 houses,” Vicmar Palomar, a local disaster management official, told the news website. 

A state of emergency has been declared in Lanao del Norte, as well as Lanao del Sur, the Philippine Daily Inquirer said.

Rescue workers said they fear the number of casualties will rise as power cuts and loss of communication lines have blocked rescue and relief efforts.

“The terrain is kind of rough. There are lots of rocks. And the area is pretty wide,” Gordon, of the Red Cross, told Al Jazeera.

“It’s not just in one province, it’s in several provinces – and so we’re having a hard time trying to communicate with other areas that may have been affected.”

Harry Roque, a spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte, said at least 72,592 people have been affected by flooding.

“It is unfortunate that another tropical cyclone, Vinta, made its presence felt so near Christmas,” he said in a statement on Saturday.

Tembin struck less than a week after Tropical Storm Kai-Tek, which left more than 50 people dead in the central Philippines.

The national weather service said in a bulletin late on Saturday that Tembin has made a second landfall on Balabac, an island in western Philippines.

The Philippines is battered by around 20 major storms each year on average.

But Mindanao Island, home to 20 million people, is rarely hit because of its location close to the equator. 

In 2011, more than 1,249 people were killed when Tropical Storm Washi hit the island. The storm unleashed devastating flash floods and landslides in areas where the natural forest had been logged or converted into pineapple plantations.

Source: Al Jazeera