One of the strongest tropical storms of the year has slammed into remote, rural areas of the Philippines, killing at least 200 people and forcing tens of thousands more to flee their homes and villages. In one of the worst incidents, 66 villagers and soldiers died yesterday, when emergency storm shelters were overrun by a flash flood caused by Typhoon Bopha. Winds over 160 miles an hour, with gusts as high as 195, have uprooted trees and wiped out homes, sending more 87,000 people to move to shelter and higher ground. Many more may be missing.
Some of the hardest hit areas were remote mining and farming regions, like the Compostela Valley, far out of reach of government rescuers. One local governor described the process of reaching the villages, many of them cutoff by fallen trees and wiped-out bridges, like "running an obstacle course." A similar-sized typhoon hit the same area last year, killing more than 1,300 people, but there was slightly less flooding this time and the previous storm hit in the middle of the night, catching residents unprepared.
Residents prepare to assess their house which was damaged by Typhoon Bopha in Butuan city in southeastern Philippines Tuesday Dec. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Erwin Mascarinas)
This photo provided by NASA and made from the International Space Station on Dec. 2, 2012, shows Typhoon Bopha moving toward the Philippines. (AP Photo/NASA)
Residents walk back to their homes after Typhoon Bopha made landfall in Compostela Valley in southeastern Philippines Tuesday Dec. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Karlos Manlupig)
Residents repair their damaged homes after Typhoon Bopha made landfall in Compostela Valley in southeastern Philippines Tuesday Dec. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Karlos Manlupig)
This Earth Observatory image made on Dec. 3, 2012, provided by NASA shows Typhoon Bopha moving toward the Philippines. Typhoon Bopha slammed into the Davao region of the Philippines early Tuesday. (AP Photo/NASA, Jesse Allen)
Bodies of flash flood victims lie on the ground as villagers look for their missing relatives after Typhoon Bopha hit New Bataan in Compostela province, southern Philippines December 5, 2012. (REUTERS)