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240 dead as typhoon hits Mindanao

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ZAMBOANGA CITY (PhilAmPress) — A new typhoon is expected to hit Mindanao and other areas on the first day of the New Year after Typhoon Vinta (international name: Tembin) dumped rains and unleashed flash floods in many parts of Mindanao that swept away people and houses and set off landslides, leaving 240  people dead and 160 others missing in Mindanao only a couple of days before Christmas.


Most of the deaths from "Vinta" were in the hard-hit provinces of Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Misamis Occidental, Iligan City and on the Zamboanga Peninsula. Davao City, hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte, was not spared as floods hit the city while the President was having a holiday break in the city.


“Vinta” was the latest disaster to hit the Philippines, which is battered by 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. Just days ago, typhoon “Urduja” swept the provinces of Biliran, the Leyte and Samar provinces and other parts of the Visayas, Bicol and Southern Tagalog, leaving more than 40 dead and misplaced thousands of people.


Meanwhile, agricultural damage from Tropical Depression “Urduja,” which hit some parts of Eastern Visayas and southern Luzon, rose to P1 billion, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).


Based on latest report, DA Chief for Field Programs Operational Planning Division Christopher Morales said the damage and losses to the agriculture sector caused by Tropical Depression Urduja have already reached P1 billion, affecting a total of 38,973 hectares of agriculture areas in Region 5, 7, 8, and 13 with an estimated losses in volume of production at 23,829 metric tons.


On Christmas eve, Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims of Typhoon Vinta.


"I want to offer my prayers to the population of the island of Mindanao, in the Philippines, hit by a storm that has caused numerous victims and destruction," the Pope said in his weekly blessing in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.


"Merciful Lord, take in the souls of the dead and comfort those who are suffering as a result of this calamity. Let's pray for these people," the Pontiff prayed.


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