Death toll from Tropical Storm Vinta breaches 200

Carmela Fonbuena

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Death toll from Tropical Storm Vinta breaches 200
(5th UPDATE) Northern Mindanao police say 135 people have died in the region alone. Around 50 others in the Zamboanga Peninsula and 18 in Lanao del Sur are also reported dead.

MANILA, Philippines (5th UPDATE) – The death toll from Severe Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin) breached 200 as flash floods and landslides wiped out homes, including an entire mountain village, in the southern Philippines on Saturday, December 23.

Based on data from the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Northern Mindanao, at least 135 people have died in the region alone due to Vinta.

Regional police said 127 of the fatalities were in Lanao del Norte, 6 in Bukidnon, one in Iligan, and one in Misamis Occidental. Around 72 others remain missing in Northern Mindanao.

It was also earlier reported that up to 50 died in the Zamboanga Peninsula and 18 in Lanao del Sur, bringing the total number of fatalities across Mindanao to 203.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) spokesperson Romina Marasigan confirmed 18 deaths in Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte.

Chief Inspector Helen Galvez, spokesperson of Police Regional Office 9 in Zamboanga City, confirmed 19 deaths in Gutalac, 7 in Salug, one in Leon Postigo, and another one in Siocon.

ABS-CBN News, citing local reporters, also reported two deaths in Labason and another two in Liloy.

Marasigan also confirmed 5 deaths in Bukidnon.

More than 100 others have been reported missing, mostly in Lanao del Norte and Zamboanga del Norte.

Vinta ravaged Mindanao on Friday, December 22, but the bulk of reports only came in Saturday. The death toll was about 30 late Saturday morning but immediately increased to nearly 100 as of 4 pm.

According to local officials, the death toll is likely to rise as responders try to reach storm-hit areas in the archipelago nation’s second largest island.

MASSIVE FLOODING. Rivers overflow in Zamboanga Peninsula. Photo courtesy of PNP in Zamboanga City

127 killed in Lanao del Norte

In Lanao del Norte in Central Mindanao, among the 127 dead were 18 people in the town of Tubod, where flash floods wiped out an entire mountain village. Up to 27 more are missing.

Tubod’s disaster response office chief Vicmar Paloma said 103 houses made of concrete and light materials were totally destroyed.

“Umapaw ‘yung Cabuyao River. With the flood ay malalaking bato and uprooted trees. ‘Yung mga communities na malapit sa river na-wipe out lahat ‘yung 103 houses,” Paloma said in a phone interview.

(The rains caused the Cabuyao River to overflow. The flood came with big rocks and uprooted trees. It wiped out a community composed of 103 houses.)

Police, soldiers, and volunteers were digging through the rubble of Dalama, a farming village of about 2,000 people, using shovels in search of more bodies, he added.

Provincial disaster response chief Ramelito Tubongbanua said 18 also died in Salvador and another two in Munai.

SUBMERGED. Several houses in Bubong, Lanao del Sur are under floodwaters due to Vinta. Photo provided by ARMM Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong

18 killed in Lanao del Sur

In neighboring Lanao del Sur province, at least 18 were killed, including a two-year-old boy, and 4 others were reported missing. 

Ten were killed in Piagapo, a town adjacent to Marawi City. Four were killed in Madalum, two in Wato, and a boy in Tamparan.

Provincial disaster response chief Saripada Pacasum Jr said they also expect the death toll to increase. Several areas hit by the storm have not been reached by responders. 

Four others are reported missing in the province. 

The provincial government, the military, and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) have joined efforts to begin clearing the roads in Madalum.

The Philippines is pummeled by 20 major storms each year on average, many of them deadly. But Mindanao, home to 20 million people, is rarely hit by these cyclones.

After slicing across Mindanao on Friday, Vinta sped west over the Sulu Sea and then made landfall for the 2nd time in Balabac, Palawan late Saturday evening. Its 1st landfall was in Cateel, Davao Oriental early Friday.

Vinta struck less than a week after Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-tak) devastated the central Philippines, leaving 54 dead and 24 missing. – with reports from Agence France-Presse / 

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