Bopha death toll tops 322 in Philippines, scores missing in worst-hit areas
The death toll from a powerful typhoon in the southern Philippines climbed to more than 270 people on Wednesday, and officials fear that the number may rise as rescuers reach hard-hit areas that had previously been isolated by landslides, localised flooding and downed communications.
One of the hardest hit regions, Davao Oriental, the coastal province first struck by the typhoon as it blew inland from the Pacific Ocean, saw at least 115 people perish, mostly in three towns, that were “so battered by the wind it was hard to find any buildings or house with a roof left [sic],” provincial officer Freddie Bendulo told reporters, earlier today.
About 80 people survived the deluge in New Bataan with injuries, but an unspecified number of villagers remain missing. On Wednesday, the farming town of 45,000 people was a muddy wasteland of collapsed houses and columns of coconut and banana trees felled by the brunt of Bopha.
Disaster-response agencies reported 13 other typhoon-related deaths elsewhere.
After slamming into Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley, Bopha roared fast across southern Mindanao and central regions, knocking out power in two entire provinces, triggering landslides and leaving houses and coconut and banana plantations disheveled — unlike the previous day’s turbulent weather, the sun was back Wednesday, prompting residents to lay their soiled clothes, books and other belongings out on roadsides to dry and revealing the extent of the damage to farmland.
The typhoon, one of the strongest to hit the country this year, had blown past south-western Palawan province into the South China Sea by mid-Wednesday.
Some-20 typhoons and storms lash the northern and central Philippines each year, but they rarely hit the vast southern Mindanao region.
UPDATE (15:04 ET): According to a Philippine government agency, the death toll has now risen to 322.
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