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article imageTyphoon Bopha hits southern Philippines, leaves at least 200 dead

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By Anne Sewell     Dec 4, 2012 in World
Dozens of people have been killed and over 56,000 evacuated to shelters as Typhoon Pablo, or Bopha, the strongest typhoon in a year, continues to batter the southern Philippines. (Updated.)
Digital Journal reported on December 2 that the typhoon, known locally as Pablo, and internationally as Bopha, was set to strike the Philippines on Tuesday, and strike it did.
At least 43 people have died and at least 5 people are missing on the central island of Leyte and off the coast of southern Mindanao Island.
More than 56,000 people have had to be evacuated to shelters as the storm continues. Cagayan de Oro city mayor, Vicente Emano told ABS-CBN television that Philippines police forcibly evacuated people from the low-lying areas after they refused to join an estimated 25,000 others, seeking refuge at government shelters.
While most outlets are reporting around 43 dead, according to ABS-CBN's latest report the number is deaths has risen to anything from 81 to possibly 95, with 43 people dead in the New Bataan town in Compostela Valley after flash floods swept away an army patrol base. At least 29 people were killed in Davao Oriental province, police said Tuesday. According to provincial police director Supt. Romil Mitra, 23 people died in Cateel town alone due to a flash flood.
According to the civil defense office, around 80 domestic flights have been grounded and more than 3,000 ferry passengers stranded after the coast guard ordered vessels to stay in port.
Civil defense chief Benito Ramos told AFP that 3 people were hit by falling trees, another suffered a heart attack as the typhoon hit Mindanao. Ramos said that all four are in an unknown condition at present. On the central island of Leyte, one person was reported missing.
According to forecasters, the storm, which is moving northwest, has slightly weakened at present. Typhoon Bopha is expected to reach the southern island of Negros shortly, bringing heavy rains.
President of the Philippines, Benigno Aguino warned residents in areas affected by the typhoon to take the disaster seriously. He said, "It could be the strongest to hit the country this year. But we can minimize the damage and loss of lives if we help each other."
Concern is high as a similar disaster hit the same region in 2011, killing 1,500 and affecting around 10% of the residents in the area.
The Philippines is hit by around 20 typhoons per year, and another storm is expected around Christmas-time.
Update: December 5, 2012.
The BBC is reporting that the death toll from a powerful storm battering the southern Philippines has risen to about 200, as rescue teams arrive in affected areas.
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