Pablo making landfall in Baganga, Davao Oriental, Tuesday morning. (Photo courtesy of Army 701st Brigade)

Pablo making landfall in Baganga, Davao Oriental, Tuesday morning. (Photo courtesy of Army 701st Brigade)

(Updated 10 p.m.) Some 274 people were killed while 279 went missing as typhoon “Pablo” (international name: Bopha) ravaged Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, and nearby areas, authorities said Wednesday.

The huge death toll was made known only a day after “Pablo” struck, as electricity and communication lines were either shut down or cut off, preventing authorities from contacting “isolated” villages.

Four were killed in Central Visayas, two in Eastern Visayas, eight in Northern Mindanao, 253 in Southern Mindanao, the region of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, while seven were killed in Caraga, Office of Civil Defense administrator Benito Ramos said by phone Wednesday night.

“Three-hundred and thirty-nine were injured and 279 are still missing,” Ramos said.

Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental are considered as the “hard-hit” areas, not only because of the high number of deaths but also because of heavy damage to properties and infrastructure, Ramos said in an earlier interview.

Earlier, Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, spokesman of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division based in Compostela Valley, said at least 142 people were killed in the province.

Homes, Army detachment washed out

Pablo's devastation. (Photo courtesy of Army 701st Brigade)

Pablo’s devastation. (Photo courtesy of Army 701st Brigade)

Most of the fatalities were victims of a mudslide in New Bataan, and floods in Monkayo, Paniza said.

Three soldiers of the Army’s 66th Infantry Battalion – identified as identified as Ssgt. Olivares, Ssgt. Cabillion, and Ssgt. Catague – were among those killed in a mudslide in Brgy. Andap, New Bataan.

“‘Yung detachment or patrol base doon sa area, pati ‘yung mga kalapit na bahay, na-wash out,” he said.

Paniza said 58 people, including soldiers Sgt. Panague, Pfc. Armodia, Pfc. Batua, Sgt. Conejos, Pfc. Hingosa, Pfc. Hopeda, Pfc. Jegapo, and Pfc. Aranez, are still missing in Compostela Valley.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in Manila said many of those who died in New Bataan remain unidentified.

Winds brought down evacuation center, moved Army trucks

Evacuees taking shelter behind the wall of an evacuation center whose roof was blown away by Pablo's strong winds. (Photo courtesy of Army 701st Brigade)

Evacuees taking shelter behind the wall of an evacuation center whose roof was blown away by Pablo’s strong winds. (Photo courtesy of Army 701st Brigade)

In its report Wednesday afternoon, the Davao Oriental Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) reported 116 deaths in the province alone.

Fifty-nine were killed in Cateel, followed by 31 in Baganga, 15 in Boston, nine in Caraga town, and one each in Manay and Taragona.

Twenty-one people in different towns were still missing, according to the 5 p.m. PDRRMC report.

Lt. Zaida Vidad, acting spokesperson of the Army’s 701st Brigade based in Mati City, said the fatalities include 11 people who were killed when an evacuation center collapsed in Cateel due to strong winds.

“Malakas na hangin ang kanilang naramdaman… ang pagka-explain sa akin ng hepe ko doon, umaangat ‘yung Army trucks, gumagalaw sa lakas ng hangin, nadadala ng hangin,” Senior Supt. Rommil Mitra, Davao Oriental provincial police director, said in a separate phone interview Tuesday night.

Almost all buildings and houses in Brgy. Poblacion, Cateel, were left “roofless,” Mitra added.

More than 200 houses, various infrastructure, and communication towers were destroyed by strong winds, according to the PDRRMC.

Agricultural lands and livestock in Boston suffered severe damages, it added.

21 killed in other areas

Evacuees use a tent to shield themselves from rain beside the evacuation center whose roof was blown away. (Photo courtesy of Army 701st Brigade)

Evacuees use a tent to shield themselves from rain beside the evacuation center whose roof was blown away. (Photo courtesy of Army 701st Brigade)

The NDRRMC, meanwhile, said 21 other people were killed in storm-related incidents in Surigao del Sur (4), Misamis Oriental (4), Agusan del Sur (3), Misamis Occidental (2), Bukidnon (2), Negros Oriental (2), Cebu (1), Siquijor (1), Northern Samar (1), and Southern Leyte (1).

Most of these fatalities were hit by falling trees or victims of drowning, according to the NDRRMC.

Power still out in many areas

As of 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, various parts of Cagayan de Oro City, Malaybalay City and Valencia City in Bukidnon, Surigao del Sur, Asudan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Lanao del Sur, and Mabinay in Negros Oriental were still experiencing power outages, the NDRRMC said.

Power and communications lines are also still down in the hard-hit areas of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, the council said.

As of 8 p.m., the center of “Pablo” was spotted 160 kilometers north-west of Roxas, Palawan, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration.

The storm, moving west-northwest at a speed of 15 kilometers per hour, is packing maximum sustained winds of 120 kph and a gustiness of up to 150 kph, according to the state weather bureau.

When it made landfall in Davao Oriental Tuesday morning, “Pablo” had maximum sustained winds of 175 kph and a gustiness of up to 210 kph.

“Pablo,” the strongest storm to hit the country this year, is expected to be 510 kilometers west of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, Thursday afternoon and 700 kilometers west of Subic, Zambales, outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility, Friday afternoon. (John Roson)

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