MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – The death toll from Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin) that struck the southern Philippines has breached 100 as massive mudslides wiped out homes, including an entire mountain village, officials said Saturday, December 23.
According to police, the number of casualties have reached 133.
Local officials said the number is likely to rise as responders try to reach areas ravaged by the storm in Mindanao, the archipelago nation's second-largest island.
Up to 50 were reported killed in Zamboanga del Norte, 36 in Lanao del Norte, 18 in Lanao del Sur, and 5 in Bukidnon.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRMC) spokesperson Romina Marasigan confirmed 18 deaths in Sibuco in 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 2 deaths in Labason and another 2 in Liloy.
Marasigan also confirmed 5 deaths in Bukidnon.
Vinta ravaged Mindanao on Friday 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 p.m.
36 killed in Lanao del Norte
At least 36 were killed in Lanao del Norte in Central Mindanao, including 16 people in the town of Tubod where flash floods wiped out an entire mountain village.
Tubod’s disaster response office chief Vicmar Paloma said 103 houses made of concrete and light materials were totally destroyed. They are still verifying reported deaths of 7 others in the town.
"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.
18 killed in Lanao del Sur
In neighboring Lanao del Sur province, at least 18 were killed, including a two-year-old boy. Ten were killed in Piagapo, a town adjacent to Marawi City. Four were killed in Madalum, two in Wato, 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 have joined efforts to begin clearing the roads in Madalum.
The Philippines is pummelled 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, December 22, Tembin sped west over the Sulu Sea with gusts of 95 kilometers an hour.
It was forecast to smash into the tip of the western island of Palawan late Saturday, the state weather service said.
Tembin 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/Rappler.com