44 dead in Compostela Valley town

Reports say many of the dead in New Bataan town in Compostela Valley had come from a nearby village where flash floods swept away an Army patrol base

TRAGEDY IN CENTRAL MINDANAO. Google Maps image of New Bataan town in Compostela Valley province

(2nd UPDATE) MANILA, Philippines – A total of 44 people died and 25 were injured after Typhoon Pablo struck New Bataan, a town in Compostela Valley, an army official said Tuesday night, December 4.

Philippine Army 10th Infantry Division spokesman Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza confirmed that the tragedy occured in Barangay Andap, where the landfall of the typhoon triggered a landslide.

The 44 fatalities include a sargeant previously counted as dead in the same town where 20 people were earlier missing and an army truck carrying 30 soldiers and 20 civilians was swept away by a flashflood this morning.

COVERED IN MUD. This is what typhoon "Pablo" did to many towns in the province. Photo by Karlos Manlupig

New Bataan was severely hit by “Pablo,” and the rescue teams were struggling to reach the town as the road was impassable due to landslides caused by the heavy rain.

AFP news agency quoted a province-based reporter of ABS-CBN, Vina Araneta, as saying: “I’ve counted 43 bodies on the floor.”

The reporter said the town mayor, Lorenzo Balbin, told her many of the dead had come from a nearby village where flash floods swept away a Philippine Army patrol base.

DEVASTATED. The storm uprooted trees and tore roofs off houses and nipa huts. Photo by Karlos Manlupig

Balbin was not answering his mobile phone when contacted by AFP.

New Bataan has a population of about 45,000, mostly farmers who till banana plantations in the area.

Arturo Uy, the governor of Compostela Valley province, which includes New Bataan, said local officials had told him earlier in the day that there were 34 people dead there.

DESTITUTE. Many poor families lost all their belongings in the typhoon. Photo by Karlos Manlupig

“It’s possible they have found more bodies,” Uy told ABS-CBN by telephone.

Uy said earlier that an army truck in New Bataan had been washed away with soldiers and civilians on board.

The Compostela Valley provincial capitol building in Nabunturan, built only a few years ago, is now almost destroyed after “Pablo” broke its roof and glass windows, and flooded the structure until the 3rd floor.

WASHED AWAY. A villager tries to keep his KTV dry and safe from "Pablo". Photo by Karlos Manlupig

We reported earlier that 3 also died in the town of Compostela, Compostela Valley, on top of the 6 dead reported earlier by rescue officials.

This brings to 50 the total number of dead people in the aftermath of “Pablo,” the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year.

“Pablo” has also forced over 56,000 people to flee their houses and affected a total of about 60,000 in the Visayas and Mindanao. – Rappler.com, with reports from Agence France-Presse

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