By AFP and Kate Louise Javier
The death toll from tropical storm “Vinta” (international name “Tembin”) climbed swiftly to 133 yesterday, as rescuers pulled dozens of bodies from a swollen river, police said.
Vinta lashed Mindanao since Friday, triggering flash floods and mudslides.
The Philippines is pummelled by 20 tropical cyclones each year on average, many of them deadly. But Mindanao, home to 20 million people, is rarely hit by these tropical cyclones.
Rescuers retrieved 36 bodies from the Salog River in Zambaonga del Sur yesterday, as officials reported more fatalities in the impoverished Zamboanga Peninsula.
The bodies were swept downriver from a town named Salvador, Rando Salvacion, the Sapad, Lanao del Norte police chief, told AFP. Authorities in Salvador said they had retrieved 17 other bodies upstream.
Salvador and Sapad are in Lanao del Norte, which is one of the provinces hardest hit by Vinta.
The death toll for the Zamboanga Peninsula also rose to 28, and police said 81 people were missing after mud and rocks swept down coastal communities in Sibuco and other fishing towns.
Vinta struck less than a week after tropical storm “Urduja” left 54 dead and 24 missing in the Visayas.
The deadliest typhoon to hit the country was “Yolanda,” which killed thousands and destroyed entire towns in heavily populated areas of Eastern Visayas in November 2013.
Vinta is expected to hit the tip of western Palawan late yesterday, the State weather service said.
The tropical cyclone continued to move outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility yesterday.
Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration said that “Vinta” has maximum sustained winds of 80 kilometer per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 95 kph.
As of 11 a.m., Vinta was spotted 245 kilometers west-northwest of Zamboanga City, moving west at 20 kph.
PAGASA raised tropical cyclone warning signal No. 2 over southern Palawan and Signal No. 1 in the rest of the province.
Scattered to widespread moderate to heavy rains prevailed over Palawan yesterday while scattered light to moderate with at times heavy rains were experienced over Bicol, Visayas, Mindanao, and the rest of Region 4-B.
Light to moderate rains affected Quezon, Rizal, and portions of Laguna and Bulacan while light rains poured over Metro Manila.
Sea travel remains risky over the seaboards of areas under storm warning signals, the southern seaboard of Mindoro provinces, and the western seaboard of Aklan and Antique due to Vinta.
“Vinta” is expected to exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility today.