At least 200 dead as flash floods and landslides devastate the Philippines

At least 200 people have died in the Philippines as a tropical storm triggered landslides and flash floods.

Rescuers are searching for survivors of Storm Tembin, which has left scores missing and thousands homeless.

The country’s misery was compounded by the death of at least 37 people in a shopping mall fire.

The Philippines is battered by about 20 typhoons a year and warnings are routinely issued.

But the level of destruction wreaked by Storm Tembin on the southern island of Mindanao from late on Friday came as a surprise.

At least 200 dead as flash floods and landslides devastate the PhilippinesAt least 200 dead as flash floods and landslides devastate the Philippines

‘It happened very fast, the flood waters quickly rose filling our house,’ farmer Felipe Ybarsabal, 65, said.

‘We weren’t able to save anything from the house. There was no help from anyone because it was so fast. Everything was two to three metres under water in less than an hour.’

Police and disaster officials predict the death toll to rise as remote farm communities and coastal areas have been badly hit.

Disaster officials said 159 people are missing while about 70,000 had been forced from their homes.

At least 200 dead as flash floods and landslides devastate the PhilippinesAt least 200 dead as flash floods and landslides devastate the Philippines

Soldiers and police joined emergency workers and volunteers to search for survivors and victims, clear debris and restore power and communications.

Many villagers ignored warnings to leave coastal areas and move away from riverbanks, officials said, and got swept away when flash floods and landslides struck.

Storm Tembin was moving west on Sunday, over some outlying Philippine islands and the South China Sea towards southern Vietnam.

It intensified into a typhoon with winds of 75 mph as it moved out of the Philippines, the national meteorological agency said.