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Tropical Storm Pablo Leaves Trail of Devastation in Southern Philippines

Tropical storm Pablo (international name: Bopha) left a trail of destruction in various parts of the southern Philippine islands of Mindanao, Leyte, Cebu, and Negros after entering the country on December 4, 2012. Pablo is the strongest typhoon to ever hit Mindanao, wreaking devastation that rivalled the calamity caused by Typhoon Sendong in the same island also December of last year. Pablo is now hundreds of kilometers off the coast of Palawan island and continues to move away from the country. As of December 7, Pablo left behind at least 418 dead, 445, injured, and 383 missing.

Hardest hit by the strong winds, heavy rains, landslides and flash floods are the poor peasants along the path of typhoon Pablo who lost much of their homes and livelihood. Especially affected were the provinces of Surigao del Sur, Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley in Mindanao. In the town of New Bataan, 101 residents died when Pablo brought water and mud surging down from the denuded mountains of Compostela Valley.

As in recent disasters like Sendong, many pinned the blame for the ever-worsening scale of the destruction caused by natural calamities on the Philippine government's continued failure to put an end to the plunder of the environment by foreign mining corporations, logging concessionaires, and their local business partners. Quierosaber's Blog points out:

The similarity in the aftermath of typhoons Sendong in 2011 and Pablo in 2012 is very glaring. Most of the death were caused by flash floods and landslides brought about by hours of torrential rains…

Haven’t we seen footages of the devastation caused by denuded forest from illegal logging? What can one say about the countless logs of all forms and sizes coming down the rivers and slopes during flash floods destroying every thing that comes across its way? What can we say about the photographs of tree stumps left on top of the hills from whence the logs cascaded with the heavy downpour?

Meanwhile, the use of new social media to monitor the typhoon's impact and coordinate relief efforts and assistance for the disaster victims has also become a familiar sight. 4253 listed all the map resources on the typhoon found in the web.

The United Nations initiated an effort to collect relevant tweets about Typhoon Pablo for the purpose of supporting the disaster response efforts. This involved identifying the photos and videos shared in these tweets, and then geo-locating, time-stamping, and categorizing this content.

To help minimize the impact of disasters, progressive legislator Teddy Casino introduced House Bill 5660 or the Free Mobile Alerts Act. If enacted, the proposed law would mandate mobile phone companies to provide free text alerts to citizens in calamity-stricken areas.

Here are some more photos and tweets on Typhoon Pablo:

A damaged bridge in Caraga region

A damaged bridge in Caraga region. Photo from @itsmecelinee

evacuation in mindanao

40,000 people have moved into shelters in Mindanao. Photo from @robertolaprade

Strong winds batter Negros Island

Strong winds batter Negros Island. Photo from @bbeejjee

Impact of the storm in Compostela Valley

Impact of the storm in Compostela Valley. Photo by Len Marcelo Jingco posted on the Facebook page of Maayong Buntag Mindanao

Some twitter reactions about the storm:

@natashya_g: I've never seen anything like the scenes coming out of ComVal in my life. Ever. Corpses among trees, battered buildings. So painful.

@iamsuperbianca: praying for those affected by #PabloPH that they keep warm, dry, safe, and in good health tonight.

@venzie: Sa mga kababayang binayo ng trahedya at pagsubok, nawa'y maging kalinga ng pagdadamayan at sama-samang pagkilos! Mahigpit na yakap po!

@venzie:To all fellow citizens affected by tragedy and trials, hopefully mutual aid and collective action will bring you shelter! Bear hug!

Updates and important information regarding Typhoon Pablo can be followed using the hashtag #PabloPH.

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