Philippines typhoon kills more than 100

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The Independent Online

The fourth super-typhoon in as many months has battered the Philippines, setting off a volcanic mudslide and widespread flooding that killed at least 109 people and left dozens more missing, officials said today.

Glen Rabonza, head of the national Office of Civil Defence, said 200 body bags were being shipped to the disaster zone at the request of provincial chiefs. With power and phone lines brought down, helicopters were carrying out aerial surveillance of cut-off areas.

"Our rescue teams are overstretched rescuing people on rooftops," Rabonza said after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was briefed on the storm's aftermath.

Fernando Gonzales, governor of badly hit Albay province, said 108 bodies had been found but that recovery operations were continuing. The figure did not include at least one person killed in adjacent Camarines Sur province, which reported that its capital was flattened.

Under secretary Dr Graciano Yumul of the Department of Science and Technology said the storm was particularly damaging because wind gusts hit 165mph when Typhoon Durian came ashore yesterday in Catanduanes, an island province with no mountains to break the storm's momentum.

At least 20 bodies were 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, Albay province's capital.

Rosal said about 30 people were injured by boulders and roofing materials in Padang and taken to hospitals.

"It's terrible," he said, after visiting the village today. "Based on our interviews with residents and village officials, more than 100 were killed or missing."

Rosal said some victims had their clothes torn off as they were swept away by the mudslide.

"We now call this place a black desert," he said, referring to the colour 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 five 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 could be reached only by foot or motorcycle because a bridge linking it to Legazpi, about six miles away, was damaged.

He said the mudslide occurred as the city was lashed by Typhoon Durian. His own residence was under water that was "higher than a person" from a flashflood.

Jukes Nunez of the Albay Provincial Disaster Co-ordinating Council said many communities in Legazpi were still flooded today.

"The request for rescue is overwhelming. The disaster managers are victims themselves," he said.

The typhoon weakened today as it moved north of Mindoro island south of Manila with sustained winds of 94mph and gusts of up to 116mph as it headed towards the South China Sea.

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