Typhoon Bopha struck the island of Mindanao on Tuesday, bringing over 130 mph winds and driving rains. The storm mainly hit the eastern coast of Mindanao, concentrating the destruction in the Compostela Valley and neighboring province of Davao Oriental. As of Wednesday morning, disaster official Benito Ramos said that 274 people were confirmed dead, 339 were injured and 279 were missing. 170,000 people were forced from their neighborhoods, many of which were completely washed away by the storm.
Today in the Philippines, families and government officials are laboring to assist those displaced by Typhoon Bopha. Intense wind and rain triggered landslides and flooded entire towns. Most of those who perished died in the Compostela Valley, where villagers and soldiers congregated in emergency shelters in New Bataan to flee the typhoon. The quick-moving waters engulfed villages and destroyed roads. In one area alone, two dozen people were pried from the mud and sent to the hospital. “The waters came so suddenly and unexpectedly, and the winds were so fierce, that compounded the loss of lives,” said Arturo Uy, a provincial governor for the Compostela Valley.
While the Phillipines are hit by an average of 20 storms each year, Typhoon Bopha struck rural communities south of the usual pathway. “This is the first time that the people in this area have experienced a storm like this,” said military spokesman Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza. “They aren’t accustomed to big storms.” Where roads are blocked by debris, soldiers are moving on foot to search for survivors. When roads are completely washed away, the government is dispatching boats to bring relief goods from the provincial capital of Mati. Helicopters are also being used to fly in much-needed food, water, and clothing to survivors.
In addition to the human cost, Typhoon Bopha has wiped out 70-80% of the coast of Mindanao’s banana plantations, tens of thousands of coconut trees, and most of its infrastructure.The cost of the storm to agriculture and buildings could reach upwards of $98 million in the Compostela Valley.
Images via NASA