The death toll from two typhoons and a tropical storm that battered the Philippines rose to 670 people Friday, and officials believed floods and landslides swept away up to 600 others on one island.
The Philippine Red Cross said reports Friday from isolated areas showed that at least 75 people were killed by widespread flooding and landslides on Palawan Island, 250 miles southwest of Manila.Floods and mudslides caused by Tropical Storm Tess swamped Palawan last weekend, and Typhoon Skip worsened the situation with more rain early this week, said Lourdes Masing, Red Cross supervisor for relief.
Before Tess and Skip, Typhoon Ruby battered most of the country Oct. 24-25.
Miss Masing said many areas on Palawan have not been heard from because of poor communications, and as many as 600 islanders are believed missing.
Tito Larrosa, civil defense coordinator on Palawan, said some landslides and floods hit simultaneously Nov. 4-5.
In one area, timber piled up at a logging camp crashed down a mountainside with floodwaters and crushed an undetermined number of houses, a Red Cross report said.
"In Rizal, when the water came from the mountains, it was followed by the mud," Larrosa said in a telephone interview from the Palawan provincial capital of Puerto Princesa.
"We heard about the floods on Nov. 6, but it was not only until yesterday that the reports of the deaths started coming," he said. "We have not heard from the Calamian group," a cluster of islands north of Palawan that is part of the province.
The mountainous, isolated, jungle-covered island is known as the Philippines' "last frontier."
Larrosa said among the hardest hit towns was Rizal, where 23 people were confirmed killed by the torrents of mud and water from the mountains.
Until the reports from Palawan came in, officials had reported only 11 deaths from Tropical Storm Tess.
Officials said 181 people were killed on land when Typhoon Ruby struck. At least 64 more people drowned when the ferry Dona Marilyn sank at the height of its fury. Another 200 passengers are missing and presumed dead.
The death toll from Typhoon Skip, which hit the central Philippines Nov. 7, stood at 139 Friday. But officials said they expected it to rise further as more reports from remote areas came in.