No fewer than 180 persons have been confirmed dead as a tropical storm raged through southern Philippines. Dozens more have been reported missing.
Flash flooding and mudslides swept through parts of Mindanao Island where two towns, Tubod and Piagapo, were badly hit.
Storm Tembin has reached speeds upwards of 50 miles per hour and passed through Mindanao. Tembin, known as Vinta in the Philippines, began raging in Mindanao on Friday, forcing a state of emergency to be declared in some areas. It is expected to continue further west.
Tubod police officer Gerry Parami told the AFP news agency that there had been at least 19 deaths in the town, which is in Lanao del Norte. The remote village of Dalama was wiped out by flash floods.
“The river rose and most of the homes were swept away. The village is no longer there,” he said.
Volunteer workers were said to be digging through mud in attempt at recovering bodies buried beneath.
Another official told AFP that at least 10 people had died in the town of Piagapo, 10km east of Tubod.
“We’ve sent rescuers but they’re making little progress,” Saripada Pacasum said.
The loss of power and communication due to the storm has made rescue efforts even more cumbersome.
Andrew Morris, from the UN children’s agency Unicef in Mindanao, said in some areas there were big risks for disease, particularly for children, and restoring clean water supplies would be a priority.
“Lanao del Sur province is the poorest in the Philippines, and in the past seven months there have been around 350,000 people displaced in that province because of fighting,” he told the BBC, referring to battles between government forces and Islamist militants in Marawi.
“So the priority yesterday and this morning has really been to check their situation.”
Tembin is expected to move further towards west, south of the Spratly Islands and may reach southern Vietnam in about three days.
The region is still recovering from Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 5,000 people and affected millions in 2013.