4 December 2012

First news of the impact of Super Typhoon Bopha (Pablo) – a major flash flood / debris flow has killed 44 people

Posted by Dave Petley

As dawn breaks in the Philippines this morning the first reports are starting to come in of the damage and losses associated with Ttphoon Bopha (Pablo) yesterday in Mindanao.  It is important to stress at this point that the storm os certainly not finished as yet – later today it will cross Palawan and then it is expected to lurk to the west of the Philippines for a few days, drawing in heavy rainfall across the nation in the process.  Reports at the moment are understandably patchy, especially from isolated rural and coastal areas.  The largest loss thus far appears to be in Campostela Valley,  This area, which has many mines, has a long history of landslides (see this previous report for example).  The incident during the passage of Bopha is variously reported to be a flash flood or a landslide – in most cases this means that the event was a debris flow in my experience.  It occurred at an army base at Barangay Andap in New Bataan, killing 44 people.  The exact circumstances are still unclear, but more information will almost certainly become available during the day.

GMA News has a video, which should be visible below, which shows a landslide being cleared.  I do not think that this is the event described above, but I don’t speak Tagalog:


The NASA TRMM satallite passed over the Philippines yesterday at 14:20 UT.  NASA have released an image showing the precipitation around the typhoon at that time:


Whilst Bopha is now less strong, having lost its source of energy as it passed over Mindanao, it is still a very intense storm.  Palawan is quite vulnerable to a large typhoon, so there remains the potential for significant impacts.  However, the authorities and population of the Philippines deserve credit for the level of preparation for this storm to date.  This has undoubtedly saved lives.

The best source of information about the impact of Bopha over the next few days will be the NDRRMC website.  they publish a hugely detailed bulletin at least once per day that describes in great detail the disruption and losses associated with the typhoon.  The most recent one is here.