By Joel Guinto and Clarissa Batino
Storm Bopha lashed the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, killing more than 80 people and injuring more than 100 as the fiercest cyclone this year ripped roofs and brought torrential rains that caused flooding and landslides.
At least 44 were killed and 25 injured from a mudslide yesterday morning in the mining province of Compostela Valley, police Lieutenant Colonel Lyndon Paniza said by phone. In Cateel, Davao Oriental, 23 were found dead and 95 injured as Bopha slammed into homes and buildings, according to police Senior Superintendent Rommil Mitra. Roofs were peeled from houses, hospital and school, Mitra said. Eighteen were killed in other parts of Davao Oriental, Lieutenant Zaida Vidad said.
Bopha weakened to 160 kilometers per hour (99 miles per hour) in wind speed and gusts of 195 kilometers per hour as of 10 p.m. yesterday from maximum speed of 175 kilometers per hour and 210 kilometers per hour gusts at 4:45 a.m. when it landed on Dec. 4. Almost a year ago, Tropical Storm Washi, with winds of 55 to 65 kilometers per hour and gusts of as much as 80 kilometers per hour, caused the most cyclone deaths since 2008.
The Philippines is regularly battered by cyclones that form over the Pacific Ocean, causing devastation that often prompts criticism of the government’s disaster-response efforts. Washi killed more than 1,200 people, mostly in Mindanao, in December 2011. In September 2009, Storm Ketsana flooded Manila and parts of Luzon, killing more than 400 people. Monsoon rains flooded half of the Manila region in August.
Civil Defense Administrator Benito Ramos said late yesterday that they have verified nine deaths and eight injuries so far. The official death tally may rise as the government checks reports from Compostela Valley and other places, Ramos said.
The storm “is no joke, but the government is prepared,” President Benigno Aquino said in a televised speech on the evening of Dec. 3. More than 56,489 people in the storm’s path have been evacuated, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in its 6 p.m. bulletin yesterday, while about 3,682 are stranded at sea ports across the country after shipping services were shut down.
The government is still assessing the extent of Bopha’s damage, Ramos said yesterday. Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas were to inspect the affected areas today.
The cyclone may hit about 100,000 hectares of land planted with rice in southern Philippines, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Dante Delima said on Dec. 3 before Bopha landed.
Cebu Air Inc. (CEB), the nation’s biggest budget airline, canceled 23 domestic flights today. Philippine Airlines and Air Philippines Corp., which scrapped several flights yesterday, haven’t announced flight cancellations today.
The storm signal in Surigao province, where Nickel Asia Corp. (NIKL)’s Taganito mine is located, was dropped to the lowest level with winds expected at 30 kilometers to 60 kilometers per hour.
Fatalities from Washi surpassed the combined death toll of 929 from the Ketsana and Parma storms in 2009, which caused more than 38 billion pesos ($928 million) of damage to homes, infrastructure and farm output. Typhoon Fengshen killed about 1,300 people in June 2008 and caused about 7 billion pesos of damage to crops and irrigation. The death toll from Fengshen included more than 900 people aboard a ship that capsized.
Total damage caused by typhoons and other natural disasters in 2011 reached 59.2 billion pesos, Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in August. That month, inflation accelerated to 3.8 percent, the fastest pace in seven months, on supply disruptions that followed flooding caused by torrential rains.
Inflation probably slowed to 3 percent last month, according to the median estimate of 17 economists surveyed by Bloomberg before a report due for release at 9 a.m. today.
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