Storm Bopha may head toward China as the death toll from the fiercest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year rose to more than 230 people, with at least 79 missing.
“If the storm continues on its west northwest path, it may hit China,” Aldczar Aurelio, a state weather forecaster, said by phone today. The storm, locally known as Pablo, will leave the Philippines tomorrow and may strengthen as it crosses the South China Sea before it makes landfall again, he said.
At least 143 were killed and 156 injured after a mudslide in the mining province of Compostela Valley yesterday morning, Army Lieutenant Colonel Lyndon Paniza said in a statement today. This brings the death count in Davao region to 224, with 304 injured and 79 missing, Paniza said. Eleven were reported killed elsewhere in the southern island of Mindanao, while there are two dead in the Visayas, according to the state disaster agency.
“We want to know if there is something we could have done,” to prevent casualties, President Benigno Aquino said in a speech before mayors and governors in Manila today. Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas is in Mindanao, surveying the damage, he said.
Bopha weakened to 120 kilometers per hour (75 miles per hour) in wind speed and gusts of 150 kilometers per hour as of 10 a.m. today, from maximum speed of 175 kilometers per hour and 210 kilometers per hour gusts at 4:45 a.m. when it landed on Dec. 4. Almost a year ago, Tropical Storm Washi, with winds of 55 to 65 kilometers per hour and gusts of as much as 80 kilometers per hour, caused the most cyclone deaths since 2008.
At 11 a.m. Manila time, Bopha was located 130 kilometers northeast of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan province and will be out of the Philippines tomorrow.
The Southeast Asian nation is regularly battered by cyclones that form over the Pacific Ocean, causing devastation that often prompts criticism of the government’s disaster-response efforts. Washi killed more than 1,200 people, mostly in Mindanao, in December 2011. In September 2009, Storm Ketsana flooded Manila and parts of Luzon, killing more than 400 people. Monsoon rains flooded half of the Manila region in August.
Almost 170,000 people in the storm’s path have been evacuated, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in its 1 p.m. bulletin today, while about 5,000 are stranded at sea ports across the country after shipping services were shut down.
The cyclone may hit about 100,000 hectares of land planted with rice in southern Philippines, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Dante Delima said on Dec. 3 before Bopha landed.
Cebu Air Inc., the nation’s biggest budget airline, canceled 23 domestic flights today, according to its website.
Fatalities from Washi in 2011 surpassed the combined death toll of 929 from the Ketsana and Parma storms in 2009, which caused more than 38 billion pesos ($930 million) of damage to homes, infrastructure and farm output. Typhoon Fengshen killed about 1,300 people in June 2008 and caused about 7 billion pesos of damage to crops and irrigation. The death toll from Fengshen included more than 900 people aboard a ship that capsized.
Total damage caused by typhoons and other natural disasters in 2011 reached 59.2 billion pesos, Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in August. That month, inflation accelerated to 3.8 percent, the fastest pace in seven months, on supply disruptions that followed flooding caused by torrential rains.
Inflation slowed to a five-month low 2.8 percent last month, the National Statistics Office said today. That’s less than the 3 percent median estimate of 17 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.