Hopes fade for typhoon survivors

More than 1,000 feared dead in Philippines as Vietnam braces for storm to hit.

    As many as 31 villages around the Mayon volcano were hit by mudslides

    The Philippine government has declared the aftermath of the typhoon a national calamity.
    Heavy rains triggered deadly mudslides of volcanic ash and boulders which sweapt through dozens of villages on the slopes of the Mayon volcano.

    "At some point we have to declare closure and declare a mass grave over the area"

    Senator Richard Gordon, Philippines Red Cross

    Senator Richard Gordon, the president of the Philippines Red Cross said the final toll of the disaster may never be known.
    "We have recovered a lot of dead people and the number of missing has grown. I expect the number dead could be well over 1,000."
    He said many victims would likely never be found.

    "It is important we recover as much as we can," he told reporters, "but at some point we have to declare closure and declare a mass grave over the area."

    By Monday the official toll stood at 425 dead, 507 injured and 599 missing.

    Several villages have not yet reported how many residents have died.
    Mass burials
    In some cases, whole families have been buried by torrents of mud and ash which swept over villages on the slopes of the Mayon volcano after the typhoon hit.

    The Red Cross has said more than
    1,000 people could have died

    The Red Cross said as many as 31 villages with about 15,000 residents were affected by the mudslides.

    Some communities have had to hold mass burials to deal with the scores of unclaimed bodies that were starting to decompose and spread disease.

    President Gloria Arroyo has declared a "state of national calamity" and authorised the immediate release of a billion pesos ($20m) to  rehabilitate areas affected by the tragedy.

    She said in a statement: "All resources of the government will continue to be mobilised without let-up as we pin hope against hope on the search of survivors.
    "We need to rise up from this trial and help rebuild devastated communities and lives."

    Marga Ortigas, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the Philippines, said: "The government says it is doing its best, but there is not enough equipment reaching the area ... the aid is just not getting here fast enough."
    Many of the rescue workers have had little to use apart from their bare hands.

    Power, communications and water remain out of service across most of the region, hampering relief efforts.

    Durian was the fourth typhoon to hit the Philippines in three months and forecasters expect another before the end of the year.
    In September this year Typhoon Xangsane left around 200 people dead and missing.
    The worst in recent memory came in 1991 when floods triggered by Typhoon Thelma killed more than 5,000 people on the island of Leyte.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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