Heaven above - carnage below: International Space Station pictures look eerily serene


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The Independent Online

At least 43 villagers and soldiers drowned in the southern Philippines when torrents of water dumped by a powerful typhoon cascaded down a mountain, engulfing emergency shelters and an army truck. The deaths raised the toll from one of the strongest storms to hit the country this year to at least 74.

Photographs from the International Space Station look eerily serene while clearly showing Typhoon Bopha as it moved toward the Philippines a few days earlier.

Rain from Typhoon Bopha swept down the mountainside into Andap village in the hard-hit Compostela Valley. Villagers who had fled from their homes to seek safety in a school and village hall were then swamped by the flash flood. An army truck carrying soldiers and villagers was washed away.

Bopha slammed into Davao Oriental province region at dawn, ripping roofs from homes, and its 310-mile-wide rain band flooded low-lying farmland. The storm, packing winds of 87mph with gusts of up to 106mph, toppled trees, triggered landslides and sent flash floods surging across the region’s mountains and valleys. Two entire provinces lost power and more than 100 domestic flights were cancelled. About 60,000 people fled to emergency shelters.

The southern provinces are unaccustomed to fierce typhoons. But in Cagayan de Oro city, hit by a massive storm last December, church bells pealed relentlessly yesterday to warn residents to head for safety as a major river started to swell.