NEW BATAAN, Philippines, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Rescue workers
searched on Thursday through thick mud, broken homes and fallen
trees for survivors, two days after a typhoon swept the southern
Philippines killing nearly 400 people and leaving at least as
Typhoon Bopha, with central winds of up to 120 kph (74 mph)
and gusts of up to 150 kph (93 mph), was moving west-northwest
of the central Philippines after ravaging the resource-rich
island of Mindanao.
The National Disaster Agency put the death toll at 379 after
Bopha triggered landslides and floods along the coast and in
farming and mining towns inland in the provinces of Compostela
Valley and Davao Oriental. The death toll is expected to rise.
Arturo "Arthur" Uy, governor of Compostela Valley, the
worst-hit area, said estimates showed 200 had died and almost
600 remained missing in his province alone, higher than the
"This is the first time a typhoon with signal number three
has crossed our province," he said. "We evacuated people from
riverbanks and shorelines. But the floods and strong winds
battered not just the riverbanks but also places where residents
where supposed to be safe."
About 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year, often
causing death and destruction. Almost exactly a year ago,
Typhoon Washi killed 1,500 people in Mindanao, but most storms
make landfall further north.
Uy said a village hall, health centre and covered court in
New Bataan, where residents took shelter ahead of the typhoon,
were washed away by floods and mud.
A few residents in Compostela Valley started repairing their
houses, while housewives washed mud-drenched clothes and used
fallen trees for cooking in makeshift stoves outside homes.
"I don't know what to do now," coconut farmer Roger Calarian
told Reuters while waiting for rice at a relief centre in New
Bataan town. "I lost my house, I lost my livelihood. I want to
rebuild my hut but I don't think I have the energy to do that
"IT HAPPENED SO FAST"
Rescue volunteers lifted a 54-year-old man to safety after
they found him in a tattered shirt with a fractured leg and
bruises, clinging to a boulder by a river in New Bataan.
"I didn't expect to see people survive two days after they
were swept (away) by flood and mud," fire volunteer Mark Roman
Jumilla told Reuters. "For two days, he survived on coconut and
water. He lost his family when floodwaters swept a temporary
shelter area where he and his family sought refuge."
Rescuers also found a pregnant woman on the other side of
the river with her one-year son after escaping floods that
swamped their house after the storm made landfall.
"It happened so fast. Water came rushing to us while we were
leaving our house to move to safer ground," Lenlen Medrano, 23,
told Reuters as she was being carried by stretcher.
"I prayed hard over and over until we found ourselves on the
A Reuters photographer saw four bodies. The river's current
was strong, making it hard for rescue teams to reach other
The Geneva-based International Federation of Red Cross and
Red Crescent made an urgent appeal for funds to help feed and
provide shelter for 50,000 people on Mindanao.
Major-General Ariel Bernardo, an army division commander,
said a navy ship was bringing food, water and relief goods to
three coastal towns isolated by collapsed bridges and damaged
The Communist Party of the Philippines issued a statement on
Thursday, ordering Maoist guerrillas to suspend attacks on army
units and help in the rescue and relief operations.
Foreign governments, including the United States, Japan and
the European Union, offered help to displaced families. Nearly
200,000 are in shelter areas and most of those have lost their