Category 5 Super Typhoon Bopha, the world’s worst storm of 2012, formed abnormally close to the Equator, and its landfall on Mindanao set the record proximity to the Equator for its category. Its torrential rains generated an enormous debris flow in the Mayo River watershed that swept away much of the village Andap in the New Bataan municipality, burying areas under rubble as thick as 9 m and killing 566 people. Established in 1968, New Bataan had never experienced super typhoons and debris flows. This unfamiliarity compounded the death and damage. We describe Bopha’s history, debris flows and the Mayo River disaster, and then we discuss how population growth contributed to the catastrophe, as well as the possibility that climate change may render other near-Equatorial areas vulnerable to hazards brought on by similar typhoons. Finally, we recommend measures to minimize the loss of life and damage to property from similar future events.