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Death toll rises after Philippines typhoon

At least 420 people confirmed dead and 400 more missing three days after powerful storm hits the south of the country.
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2012 04:51
Typhoon Bopha was the deadliest storm to hit the Philippines so far this year [AFP]

The death toll after Typhoon Bopha ravaged the south of the Philippines has risen to 420 and nearly 400 others are missing, authorities say.

Residents began to bury their dead on Friday as rescue teams continued searching for survivors in remote areas.

Officials in Compostela Valley, one of the worst-hit provinces on the island of Mindanao, were considering mass graves for unclaimed bodies killed by the typhoon which hit on Tuesday.

"We are thinking of burying the unclaimed bodies on health concerns," Major General Ariel Bernardo, an army division commander in the southern Philippines, told Reuters news agency. "The foul smell is becoming strong."

At least 250,000 people have been left homeless after the storm.

The United Nations on Thursday offered to mobilise international support for to help authorities deal with the disaster.

UN condolences

A spokesman said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had sent "sincere condolences" to the Philippine government over Typhoon Bopha, which hit Mindanao island on Tuesday, triggering landslides and flash floods.

Most of the confirmed dead from the storm lived in a steep valley in the country's south where flooding was so widespread that places people thought were safe, including two emergency shelters, became among the deadliest.

Nearly 80 residents and soldiers died in the New Bataan village of Andap when a flash flood swamped the two emergency shelters and a military camp.

Authorities said about 215 victims died in Compostela Valley and more than 151 died in nearby Davao Oriental province, with the rest were in other central and southern provinces.

Bopha has now weakened and is slowly moving north-northwest towards the South China Sea, with central winds of up to 110 kph and gusts of up to 140 kph.

Political support

Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Friday visited communities devastated by a deadly typhoon, and vowed to work to find ways to prevent storm disasters.

"We want to find out why this tragedy happened and how to keep these tragedies from happening again," he told dazed survivors after arriving by helicopter in New Bataan which bore the brunt of the deadly cyclone.

"I am here to listen and hear explanations. This is not a time for accusations. It is a time for work," Aquino said before helping hand out food packs to about 2,000 people sheltering at a government gymnasium, one of the few structures left standing on the town of 48,000 people.

Boxer Manny Pacquiao has also pledged support for the victims of the devastating typhoon.

"I am aware of what is going on, and my prayers are with the people of the Philippines," Pacquiao said. "I have people who are monitoring the situation, and they will handle anything I asked them to do."

Pacquiao, who is a congressman representing the Sarangari province, talked about the tragedy on Wednesday in Las Vegas, where he is preparing to fight Mexico's Juan Manuel Marquez for the fourth time.

"I'll go out and raise money for the people who were affected," Pacquiao said. "I have helped my countrymen before, and I will do whatever they ask me to do to help."

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