1 soldier killed

The NDRRMC report of fatalities included Erlinda Balante of Manay town, Davao Oriental, Jigger Gomonit, 30, of Panao, Misamis Oriental, Elberto Daniel, 23, of Lazi, Siquijor, and 1st Sergeant Olivarez of the 10th Infantry Division.

Ramos said Olivarez was washed away along with his company commander, identified as Lieutenant Deazeta, after a flash flood hit their temporary command post at Barangay Andap at around 3 p.m. Deazeta was rescued but remains unconscious, Ramos said.

The soldiers' first names were not immediately available.

The military command also reported power outages and communication interruptions because of fallen electrical outposts and power lines.

Packing peak slightly weakened centre winds of 160 kilometers per hour, gusting up to 195 kph, the typhoon that was internationally called "Bopha" struck before dawn Tuesday at Baganga town in Davao Oriental, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

With a diameter of 500 km, the typhoon swept across the midsection of Mindanao, slightly below the path Tropical Storm "Sendong" took a year ago, before veering west northwest toward the southern Visayas region. Sendong killed over 1,500 people.

As of 4 p.m., the eye of the typhoon was located 60 km southeast of Dumaguete City, Pagasa said.

It was forecast to continue moving west northwest at 24 kph, maintaining its peak strength.

Port authorities in Dumaguete said a ferry with six crewmen was missing.

The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) said initial reports showed that 8,400 families were evacuated to safer ground in Davao Oriental, Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Leyte.

More than 3,430 passengers of 93 interisland vessels were stranded in 16 major sea ports, including those in Manila and parts of the Visayas and Mindanao, the Philippine Coast Guard said.

In Davao Oriental, where Pablo made landfall, residents said the wind was so strong it sent coconut trees falling like logs cut by chainsaws.

Flordeliz Bantolinao, a teacher in Baganga, Davao Oriental, said a neighbour died in a house crushed by a coconut tree.

Bantolinao said, by her estimate, 90 per cent of houses in her village, Baculin, had either been destroyed or damaged.

Coconut trees felled

Bantolinao said in a phone interview that in a 10-hectare plantation in her village, all the coconut trees were felled.

She said other villages in Baganga, especially in the town centre, could have suffered the same fate, if not worse, but she had no way of knowing for sure because the roads leading to the villages and the centre of town had been blocked by fallen trees.

"Everything is gone-houses, crops," Bantolinao said. She said the typhoon victims urgently needed food.

Baganga, which faces the Pacific Ocean, is some 100 kilometers from the capital city of Mati.

Emmalyn Oliveros of the Davao Oriental civil defence office, said the extent of damage in the province could not be known immediately because of downed communications.

Oliveros confirmed the death of a 5-year-old child, Errol Lintuan, of Barangay Tubaon in Tarragona town.

Lintuan was killed when a tree fell on his family's house around 5 a.m. Tuesday.

In Cebu City, civil defence authorities said a 23-year-old man died after a coconut tree struck him as he was driving his motorcycle in Lazi town, Siquijor.

By 2 p.m. Tuesday, officials in Davao Oriental had moved 856 families to evacuation centers.

In Tarragona, roofs were torn off houses, according to Vivencio Anislag of the municipal office.

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