MANILA, Dec 5 (Reuters) - The Philippines' strongest typhoon
this year was headed towards tourist destinations on Wednesday
after hitting a southern island, destroying homes, causing
landslides and killing at least 82 people, but many more are
reported dead and missing.
Typhoon Bopha, with central winds of 120 kph (75 mph) and
gusts of up to 160 kph (93 mph), was expected to hit beach
resorts and dive spots in northern Palawan, the weather bureau
said on Wednesday.
Interior Minister Manuel Roxas confirmed 82 people had died
and scores were missing after Bopha made landfall on Tuesday.
But the toll is likely to be closer to 100 with police and
media reports of other deaths still to be confirmed.
About 20 typhoons hit the Philippines annually, often
causing death and destruction. Typhoon Washi killed 1,500 people
More than half those confirmed killed, many buried under mud
and collapsed houses, were from an area near an army outpost in
Compostela Valley province on southern Mindanao.
"We have already accounted 43 bodies and we're still looking
for more, including nine soldiers," said Major-General Ariel
Bernardo, an army division commander.
BURIED UNDER MUD
Bernardo said two dozen people had been pulled from under
layers of mud and were being treated in local hospitals. Video
showed dozens of bloodied survivors, their faces covered with
thick cake of mud, at a shelter in the province.
Mudslides and massive flooding caused by swollen rivers
inundated most farms in Compostela Valley.
"In the town of Nabunturan, our farms were totally wiped
out, there was flooding in every barangay (village)," police
Major Hector Grijaldo. "All banana plantations were totally
wiped out. What we see standing are coconut trees, all others
were either uprooted or felled."
Coastal areas in nearby Davao Oriental province also bore
the brunt of Bopha's fierce winds and rain.
Rommil Mitra, provincial police chief, said 52 people were
reported killed in Boston and Cateel towns, most of them crushed
by fallen tress, collapsed homes and flying debris.
"The winds were really very strong," Mitra said. "I was told
the force of the wind could even lift an army truck loaded with
troops from the ground."
Most of the affected areas remained isolated due to power
outages, lack of communications and destroyed roads and bridges.
Helicopters were ferrying troops in search and rescue
Tens of thousands of people remained in temporary shelter
areas as local officials appealed for food, water and warm
clothes for displaced families. Schools remained closed and
dozens of domestic flights were suspended on Wednesday.
(Reporting By Manuel Mogato and Rosemarie Francisco; Editing by