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Tropical Storm Tembin: Philippines rescuers seek victims

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Reuters

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The Salvador district is among those badly affected

Rescuers are searching for victims of a tropical storm in the southern Philippines which has killed some 200 people in mudslides and flash floods.

Rescue teams have yet to reach some of the affected areas on Mindanao island.

About 150 people are still missing after Storm Tembin swept through the region, with another 70,000 displaced from their homes.

The rescue effort is being hampered by continuing heavy rain, power cuts and blocked roads.

In the early hours of Sunday, Tembin, known as Vinta in the Philippines, was south of the Spratly Islands, heading towards southern Vietnam. It had gathered strength, with maximum winds of 120km/h (75 mph).

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was saddened by the loss of life, adding that the UN was ready to help.

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Reuters

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Residents in Salvador district with relief supplies

There are fears the death toll will rise further.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is due to visit communities affected by Storm Tembin on Sunday.

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Police said 135 people had been killed and 72 were missing in northern Mindanao. Forty-seven were killed and 72 missing in the Zamboanga peninsula. In Lanao del Sur, another 18 died.

Between 40,000 and 60,000 people are reported to be housed in evacuation centres.

The mountain village of Dalama was one of the worst affected places. Houses were buried in mud or engulfed in floodwaters.

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Media captionThe aftermath of Storm Tembin on Mindanao island

“The flood was already close and the people were not able to get out from their homes,” survivor Armando Sangcopan told local TV.

The bodies of eight children were extracted from thick mud in the town of Salvador in Lanao del Norte, the Inquirer reports.

“It’s very painful to see the dead bodies of children, whom we also considered to be our own,” the principal, Ricardo Abalo, told the paper.

Aid workers said people had not heeded warnings to evacuate before Tembin arrived, either because they believed the storm would not be severe or they had nowhere else to go.

Risks of disease

Many victims were swept away from low-lying residential areas when the flash floods and landslides struck.

More deaths were reported in Bukidnon, Iligan and Misamis Occidental.

Andrew Morris, from the UN children’s agency Unicef in Mindanao, said in some areas there were big risks of 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.

Meanwhile, Richard Gordon, of the Philippines Red Cross, told the BBC: “We have already provided water and hot food.

“And we’re going to be distributing non-food items – certainly blankets, mosquito nets and certainly hygiene kits for those who are in evacuation centres so that we can alleviate the suffering of many of the folks there.”

A week ago, Tropical Storm Kai-Tak hit the central Philippines, killing dozens.

The region is still recovering from Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 5,000 people and affected millions in 2013.

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