At least five people were killed while not less than 20 others were reported missing when typhoon “Pablo” slammed into Mindanao and the Visayas Tuesday, authorities said.

Senior Supt. Rommil Mitra, Davao Oriental Provincial Police director, identified two of the fatalities as Erlinda Balante, 64, of Manay, and Rossel Along, 22, of Caraga town.

Balante died when her house in Brgy. Poblacion collapsed due to strong winds, while Along was killed after he slipped from the stairs amid the storm’s onslaught, Mitra said in a phone interview.

Four people were reported missing in different areas while two people were injured in Caraga, he said.

One Jigger Gomonit, 30, was killed when he was hit by a tree while riding a motorcycle in Panaon, Misamis Oriental, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council executive director Benito Ramos told reporters in Manila.

Elberto Daniel died when he was also hit by a falling tree while riding a motorcycle in Lazi, Siquijor, Ramos said.

Army patrol base washed away; 20 missing

In Compostela Valley, one soldier ranked sergeant died when floowaters washed away their patrol base in Brgy. Andap, New Bataan, Capt. Severino David, commander of the Armed Forces Eastern Command’s disaster response task group, said.

The soldier’s commanding officer, ranked lieutenant, was injured and is reportedly unconscious at a local hospital, David said.

About 20 “civilians” living near the patrol base were also washed away and are now missing, he said.

“Pablo,” the strongest storm to hit the country this year, made landfall in Baganga, Davao Oriental, around 4:45 a.m.

The storm packed maximum sustained winds of 160 kilometers per hour, with gusts of up to 195 kph as it moved west-northwest at 20 kph.

Roofs ripped off, posts toppled

In Caraga town, the storm ripped off roofs and toppled electric posts and trees, leaving the main road impassable to vehicles.

“Ang sitwasyon ng kalsada unpassable pa hanggang sa ngayon, marami pong mga malalaking puno, puno ng niyog, at saka mga poste, kable ng kuryente ang nakaharang sa daan,” Mitra said, adding that clearing operations by the DPWH and police were underway.

Liza Mazo, director of the Office of Civil Defense in Southern Mindanao, said floods, landslides, and storm surges caused by the storm damaged a number of roads, bridges, in davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

Among those that experienced landslides were Compostela Valley’s gold-rush area, Mt. Diwata, while storm surges hit Davao Oriental’s coastal towns of Banay-Banay, Manay, and Boston.

Strong winds and heavy rain also caused damages in Surigao del Sur while three people, including a mother and her child, were injured after a coconut tree fell on their home in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte, Blanche Gobenciong, OCD-Caraga director, said.

Power out

Around 10 a.m., the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services administration tracked the center of the storm to 50 kilometers east of Malaybalay, Bukidnon.

“It is starting to trip electric posts and trees in Bukidnon. Moderate heavy rains are also felt in Bukidnon,” Chief Supt. Gil Hitosis, Northern Mindanao regional police director, said in a text message 10 a.m.

Malaybalay City experienced a power outage amid strong winds, he said.

“Almost all” barangays of Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City also suffered power outages because strong winds cut electric lines, regional police spokesman Supt. Ronnie Cariaga said.

“Sa kabutihang palad naman po ay walang reported casualty so far at mas maganda ang situation kaysa last year,” Cariaga said, comparing the situation to when tropical storm “Sendong” killed more than 1,000 people last year.

Visayas prepares

In Western Visayas, local governments suspended classes at different levels in Capiz, Negros Occidental, Bacolod City, Iloilo City, and Guimaras, regional police director, Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz said.

The storm was already being felt in the Central Visayas provinces of Cebu and Negros Oriental as of Tuesday evening. (John Roson)

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