Death toll climbs in Philippine typhoon
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies issued an appeal for $4.8 million to help people directly affected by the typhoon that hit the Philippines.
The Associated Press
NEW BATAAN, Philippines — Parents searching for children examined a row of bodies covered with banana leaves while survivors dried soaked belongings on roadsides as the death toll from the southern Philippines' typhoon climbed to about 350 people Thursday with nearly 400 missing.
The Office of Civil Defense reported that more bodies were retrieved from hardest-hit Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental and six other provinces.
At least 200 people died in Compostela Valley alone when Typhoon Bopha struck Tuesday, including 78 villagers and soldiers who perished in a flash flood that swamped two emergency shelters and a military camp.
"Entire families may have been washed away," said Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who visited New Bataan on Wednesday.
The farming town of 45,000 people was a muddy wasteland of collapsed houses, and coconut and banana trees felled by Bopha's winds.
Bodies of victims were laid on the ground for viewing by people searching for relatives. A father wept when he found his child after lifting a plastic cover. A mother, meanwhile, went away in tears, unable to find her children. "I have three children," she said repeatedly.
In Davao Oriental, the coastal province first struck by the typhoon as it blew from the Pacific Ocean, at least 115 people died, mostly in three towns so battered that it was hard to find any buildings with roofs remaining, provincial officer Freddie Bendulo and other officials said.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies issued an appeal for $4.8 million to help people directly affected by the typhoon.
The sun shined brightly for most of the day Wednesday, prompting residents to put out soaked clothes, books and other belongings on roadsides to dry and revealing the extent of the damage to farmland. Thousands of banana trees in one Compostela Valley plantation were toppled by the wind, the young bananas still wrapped in blue plastic covers.
As night fell, however, rain started pouring again over New Bataan, triggering panic among residents who feared a repeat of the previous day's flash floods. Some carried whatever belongings they could as they hurried to nearby towns or higher ground.
After slamming into Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley, Bopha roared quickly across the southern Mindanao and central regions, knocking out power in two provinces, triggering landslides and leaving houses and plantations damaged. More than 170,000 people fled to evacuation centers.
On Thursday, the typhoon was over the South China Sea west of Palawan province. It was blowing northwestward and could be headed to Vietnam or southern China, according to government forecasters.
The deaths came despite efforts by President Benigno Aquino III's government to force residents out of high-risk communities as the typhoon approached.