A tropical storm in the southern Philippines has swamped entire villages and uprooted thousands of families. Over 200 people were feared dead or missing Saturday, officials said.
Since making landfall Friday morning in Davao Oriental province on Mindanao island, Tropical Storm Tembin, known locally as Vinta, has triggered flash floods and landslides that have swept away homes and people.
Office of Civil Defense Spokesperson Romina Marasigan said in a press briefing Saturday that 123 people were killed, with an additional 160 missing and 14 injured, many of whom are from the provinces of Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga del Norte.
So far, the storm has hit 389 villages across five regions in the Philippines, mostly in Mindanao, according to Harold Clavite, director-general of the country’s information agency.
More than 68,000 people are at 227 evacuation centers.
“Several locations have reported massive flooding which affected a lot of communities,” Clavite told ABC News. “We are still monitoring ongoing verification of dead and missing persons.”
Food packs and other aid are being distributed in the affected communities, according to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte‘s office.
“It is unfortunate that another tropical cyclone, Vinta, made its presence felt so near Christmas,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said in a press release Saturday.
Tembin was packing maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour with gusts as high as 59 mph. The storm is forecast to move away from the southern Philippines on Sunday toward the South China Sea, inching closer to Vietnam.
It’s the latest storm to strike the archipelago nation situated on the Pacific typhoon belt, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.