MANILA, Philippines — With many roads and bridges washed away, rescue teams struggled Wednesday to reach isolated villages in the southern Philippines after a powerful out-of-season typhoon tore through the region, leaving more than 270 people dead and hundreds more missing, officials said.
Typhoon Bopha packed winds of up to 100 mph when it struck Tuesday, bringing torrential rains that flattened entire villages and left thousands homeless.
The deaths were concentrated in the Compostela Valley, a mountainous gold mining area, and the neighboring province of Davao Oriental, on the eastern coast of the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, a military spokesman, said in a telephone interview late Wednesday.
A national disaster official, Benito Ramos, said at a news conference Wednesday that 274 people had died, 339 were injured and 279 were missing.
Those figures were likely to rise, he suggested, since rescue workers had not yet reached several villages in the hardest-hit areas and the casualties there were not known.
Most of the dead appeared to have drowned or been hit by falling trees or flying debris, officials said.
“There is debris in the road, so our soldiers are moving by foot," Paniza said. “They are crossing rivers and landslides. I don’t want to speculate, but we don’t know what they will find when they reach those cutoff areas."