News Column

Typhoon Death Toll Nears 500, Philippines Searches for Survivors

Dec. 7, 2012

Rescue workers searched through mud and debris in the southern Philippines Friday for survivors of Typhoon Bopha, as the number of victims neared 500.

The military reported 482 deaths mainly in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental provinces on the island of Mindanao, hardest hit when Typhoon Bopha unleashed heavy rains and strong winds early Tuesday.

The official tally by the National Risk Reduction and Management Council (NRRMC) stood at 418 dead, 445 injured and 383 missing early Friday.

President Benigno Aquino III visited the area and brought 10,000 packs of relief goods.

"What is important to me, number one, is to account for the missing. I hope, most of them, if not all are still alive and we can still reach them," Aquino told residents.

"We [also] have to attend to all who have survived, that is why I am here. I am here to listen to you, I want to know the answers to questions hovering in our mind," he said.

At least 38 people declared missing have been found alive.

But as days passed hopes of more survivors dwindled, Major General Ariel Bernardo, commander of the 10th Infantry Division, told reporters.

Carlos Agang, 54, rescued Thursday told reporters a flash flood carried away his mountainside home. He screamed for help but no one heard him and he stayed buried beneath rocks and debris for two days.

He does not know what happened to his wife and four children, or many others in his village whose houses were washed away, he said, before being airlifted to a hospital.

The NDRRMC said around 310,000 people were still staying in or around evacuation centers. Some 10,000 homes have been destroyed, the Civil Defense Office said, as well as many evacuation centres.

Tents have sprung up along roads and in cleared areas.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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