Philippines storm toll tops 200, tens of thousands displaced

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Some 200 people have been killed in the southern Philippines after a tropical storm battered the archipelago nation’s second-largest island, triggering heavy flooding and landslides that have ravaged towns and displaced tens of thousands.

Tropical Storm Tembin lashed Mindanao island, home to 20 million people, on Friday with gusts of 125 kilometres an hour and torrential rain, wiping out at least one mountain village and prompting a massive rescue operation over the weekend.

Police said 144 people remained missing while more than 40 000 had fled to evacuation camps as Tembin roared out into the South China Sea early Sunday.

A total of 70 000 have been displaced or affected by the storm according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which warned that continued heavy rain could hamper the search for survivors.

“People left everything behind when they fled for their lives,” the IFRC’s Philippines operations and programmes manager Patrick Elliott said in a statement.

The Philippines is pummelled by major storms every year, many of them deadly but Mindanao tends to be less affected.

Footage shows vast tracks of land on the island is now under brown water, often waste deep as locals try to flee to safer ground.

Local police said 135 people were killed and 72 were missing in the northern section of Mindanao, while 47 were dead and 72 missing in the impoverished Zamboanga peninsula on its western side.

Another 18 people perished in the province of Lanao del Sur in the centre of the island.