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More than 100 dead in Philippine mudslides and flooding

A tropical storm in the southern Philippines triggers mudslides and flash floods that kill more than 100 people, while dozens are missing, police and disaster officials say.

'Many people were swept to the sea' as flood waters rose with high tide

Rescuers evacuate residents from Cagayan de Oro city in the Philippines on Friday. (Froilan Gallardo/Reuters)

A tropical storm in the southern Philippines triggered mudslides and flash floods that killed more than 100 people, while dozens are missing, police and disaster officials said on Saturday.

The casualties, most of them caused late on Friday, were all on the main southern island of Mindanao, they said, adding three provinces were hardest hit.

Disaster officials said many residents had ignored warnings to leave coastal areas and riverbanks.

"Many people were swept to the sea as flood waters quickly rose due to the high tide," Manuel Luis Ochotorena, a disaster agency official, said. "They never heeded the warnings. They thought it was a weak storm but it dumped more rains."

Hundreds of kilometres to the east, army and emergency workers were checking reports an entire village was buried by mudslide in Tubod town in Lanao del Norte.

A policeman carries a young girl as he wades through a flooded street in Cagayan City, Philippines on Friday, after the Cagayan River swelled caused by heavy rains brought by Tropical Storm Tembin. (Josep Deveza/AFP/Getty Images)

Ryan Cabus, a local official, said power and communication lines to the area had been cut, complicating rescue efforts.

The weather bureau said the storm had gathered strength over the Sulu Sea and was packing winds of up 80 km/h and moving west at 20 km/h. 

It was heading out over the sea by midday on Saturday and would have moved clear of the Philippines by Monday, the bureau said.

Search for survivors

Emergency workers, soldiers, police and volunteers were being mobilized to search for survivors, clear debris, and restore power and communications.

Deaths were reported in various places, including 60 in Tubod, El Salvador and Munai towns in Lanao del Norte province.

In Zamboanga del Norte province, police said 42 people had been killed in the towns of Sibuco and Salug.

Three people were killed in Bukidnon province, while politicians in Lanao del Sur province said 18 people had drowned in flash floods there.

Sixty-four people were reported missing in floods and landslides, according to a tally of reports form officials and police.

Humanitarian agencies are waiting to get access to the most affected areas, said G. Jeff Lamigo of World Vision. CBC News reached him in Manila.

He said the typhoon is expected to pass by Christmas Day, after which agencies will co-ordinate with government to determine which areas need help most.

"The basic utilities like water are still inaccessible for most of the people," he said, adding that a power outage makes communication a challenge.

In Canada, Global Affairs is monitoring the storm's effects and the heavy rainfall expected over the next few days.

 

There are 133 Canadians registered in the affected area, and 2,351 in the country, according to the Registration of Canadians Abroad Service. The number is an estimate of Canadians in the Philippines, since registration is voluntary.

Global Affairs said Saturday there had been no reports of Canadian citizens affected by the storm.

Canadian citizens in the affected area requiring emergency consular assistance should contact the Embassy of Canada in Manila at  +63 2 857 9000, or call the department's Emergency Watch and Response Centre at  +1 613 996 8885 (collect calls are accepted where available). An email can also be sent to  sos@international.gc.ca.

The Philippines is battered by about 20 typhoons every year, bringing death and destruction, usually to the poorest communities.