A tropical storm in the Philippines triggered mudslides and floods killing more than 150 people with many others reported missing, police and disaster officials said on Saturday.
Typhoon Tembin -- known as Vinta in the Philippines swept away residents and left communities buried in mud, authorities said.
Tembin strengthened into a typhoon before moving into the South China Sea.
The typhoon was packing maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour and gusts of up to 90 mph.
Most of the dead and missing were reported in the hard-hit provinces of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur and on the Zamboanga Peninsula.
Intense rainfall in the mountains most likely caused landslides that blocked rainwater, said Marina Marasigan of the government’s disaster-response agency. When the naturally formed dams broke from the pressure, torrents of rainwater smashed into the villages below.
Mayor Bong Edding of Sibuco town blamed logging operations in the mountains for flash food that swept away houses with more than 30 residents. Five bodies have been recovered so far in the village and a search and rescue was continuing.
Marasigan asked the public to heed storm warnings and evacuation orders to avoid casualties.
“We’re really sad that we have this news especially because our countrymen were looking to celebrate Christmas,” Marasigan told a televised news conference.
The storm has displaced more than 70,000 people in southern Philippines, 50,000 of whom were staying in shelters, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said Saturday.
Thousands of villagers fled to emergency shelters and more than 500 passengers remained stranded in airports and seaports after the coast guard prohibited ferries from venturing out in the rough seas and several flights were canceled as the storm raged Saturday.
An inter-island ferry sank off northeastern Quezon province Thursday after being lashed by fierce winds and big waves, leaving at least five people dead. More than 250 passengers and crewmen were rescued.
It was the latest disaster to hit the Philippines, which is battered by about 20 typhoons and storms each year, making the archipelago that lies on the Pacific typhoon belt one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.