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Typhoon kills four, destroys homes in southern Philippines

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 4 Dec 2012 10:38 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Raises death toll, adds details)

MANILA, Dec 4 (Reuters) - The strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year pounded the southern island of Mindanao on Tuesday, killing four people, destroying homes and toppling power and communication lines, officials said.

Typhoon Bopha, with wind gusts of up to 195 kph (121 mph), made landfall at dawn, uprooting trees and tearing off roofs and was headed for major tourist destinations in the central Philippines. About 20 people were reported missing.

"There goes my house," Landring Ceballos, a fisherman in Davao Oriental province told reporters by telephone from high ground as he watched winds lift his makeshift house and dump it in the sea.

Benito Ramos, executive director of the national disaster agency, said four people were confirmed dead. Media said dozens of people were injured by flying debris, falling trees and swept away by swollen rivers and flash floods.

About 20 people, including six soldiers, were reported missing when rampaging water swept an army base, a military spokesman said, adding rescue helicopters had been grounded.

The low death toll was due in part to an early evacuation. More than 155,000 people remained in temporary shelters late on Tuesday.

About 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year, often causing death and destruction. Typhoon Washi killed 1,500 people on Mindanao in 2011.

"We have suffered enough," Felicitas Cabusao said, clutching a Holy Rosary beside her crying 12-year-old daughter.

Cabusao said her daughter survived Typhoon Washi in December 2011 after she was washed out to sea when flash floods swept away entire coastal villages.

Dozens of domestic flights and ferry services in the central and southern Philippines were suspended. Schools and some businesses were closed.

Bopha, with a storm cloud covering of 500 km (310 miles), was moving west-northwest and was expected to move out into the South China Sea by Thursday.

Farm Minister Proceso Alcala said on Monday he expected minimal damage to rice and corn crops as they had only recently been planted and could be replaced quickly if damaged. (Reporting By Manuel Mogato; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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