109 killed by Philippine typhoon; dozens missing

More than 100 others feared dead in fourth super typhoon in as many months.

typhoon tree down 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
typhoon tree down 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
At least 109 people were killed as the fourth super typhoon in as many months battered the eastern Philippines and set off a mudslide, officials said Friday, fearing the death toll could triple or worse. At least 20 bodies have been recovered from the village of Padang, which was hit by a mudslide of volcanic debris on the foot of the Mayon volcano, said Noel Rosal, mayor of Legazpi city, capital of badly hit Albay province. Elsewhere in Albay, nine people were killed in Daraga town and 26 in Santo Domingo, where 13 others were missing, said Jukes Nunez of the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council, adding that he expects the death toll to rise. Rosal said about 30 people were injured by boulders and roofing materials in Padang and taken to hospitals. "It's terrible," he told The Associated Press by phone after visiting the village Friday. "Based on our interviews with residents and village officials, more than 100 were killed or missing. Based on the bodies I saw, there could be no less than 20. I could not bear to look at some of them." Rosal said some victims had their clothes ripped off as they were swept away by the mudslide. "We now call this place a black desert," he said, referring to the color of the volcanic debris. Mayon erupted in July, depositing millions of tons of rocks and volcanic ash on its slopes. Rains from succeeding typhoons that hit the area earlier may have loosened the materials. Rosal said three of the communities comprising the village of 1,400 people had been "wiped out" with only the roofs of several houses jutting out of the debris. He said some boulders were as big as cars. Rosal said Padang can only be reached by foot or motorcycle because a bridge linking it to Legazpi, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) away, was damaged. He said the mudslide occurred at mid-afternoon Thursday as the city was lashed by Typhoon Durian, which slammed into the eastern island province of Cabanatuan, close to Legazpi, with up to 225 kilometer (140 mile) per hour winds earlier in the day. Rosal said his own residence was under water that was "higher than a person" from a flashflood. "I was almost a goner. I had to swim," he said. Jukes Nunez of the Albay Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council said many communities in Legazpi were still flooded Friday morning. Nunez said disaster officials only were able to get a picture of the extent of disaster in the province early Friday due to downed power and communication lines. "The request for rescue is overwhelming. The disaster managers are victims themselves," he said. The typhoon weakened early Friday as it moved north of Mindoro island south of Manila with sustained winds of 150 kph (94 mph) and gusts of up to 185 kph (116 mph) as it headed toward the South China Sea.