Typhoon Bopha Death Toll Rises To 325; Thousands Homeless In Philippines

 @AmruthaGayathri
on December 06 2012 4:15 AM
Typhoon Bopha
Soldiers dig bodies of typhoon victims pinned under coconut tree trunks in New Bataan town in Compostela Valley in southern Philippines Dec. 6, 2012 REUTERS

Bopha, the strongest typhoon to have hit the Philippines this year, has left at least 325 dead and 379 others missing, according to the data from the Philippine Civil Defense Office.

The typhoon with central winds of 115 kph and gusts of up to 145 kph was moving to west-northwest of the central Philippines Thursday and is expected to be above the South China Sea Friday, Reuters reported.

Most of casualties were caused by landslides and floods triggered by the typhoon along the coast and in farming and mining towns in the southern Mindanao region. Intense winds stuck the large southern island of Mindanao Tuesday, uprooting trees, destroying homes and setting off flashfloods and landslides.

"We have 325 dead and this is expected to rise because many more are missing," Civil Defense chief Benito Ramos told a news conference in Manila early Thursday. Rescue officials who spoke to the AFP put the death toll at 475.

"Communications are bogged down, there is no electricity, roads and bridges have been destroyed," Ramos said. "We're still on a search-and-rescue mode."

The typhoon, which made a landfall in Compostela Valley Tuesday, has affected some 200,000 people, the AFP has reported citing the Philippine disaster agency. More than 85,000 people are in evacuation centers.

Rescue teams are still working to reach communities in some isolated areas.

About 20 typhoons hit the Philippines annually, often causing death and destruction. Last year’s Typhoon Washi killed 1,500 people.

The U.N. said that the improved early warning systems saved lives this time.

However, President Benigno Aquino said further improvement was required to rule out casualties.

"Any single casualty is a cause for distress. Our aim must always be about finding ways to lessen them," he said.

U.S. Deputy State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Washington offered its sympathies to the Philippines and Palau, which was also hit by the storm earlier in the week, and that both nations would receive assistance from the U.S.

"Our embassies in Manila and Koror have offered immediate disaster relief assistance, and we are working closely with authorities in both countries to offer additional assistance as needed," Toner said in a statement.

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