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Hundreds Feared Dead in Philippines Typhoon

  • Douglas Bakshian

Typhoon Durian has killed at least 146 people in the Philippines and authorities say hundreds more victims may be found in stricken areas cut off by the storm. Douglas Bakshian reports from Manila.

Most of the deaths were initially reported in Albay province, where heavy rains mixed with volcanic ash from the slopes of the Mayon volcano, caused devastating mudslides that struck several villages. Mayon erupted in July depositing tons of rock and volcanic ash on its slopes, and previous storms may have loosened the material.

Authorities say the death toll will likely rise as reports come in from other provinces in the Bicol region, where power and communications have been cut, as well as roads . Typhoon Durian slammed into the central and northern Philippines Thursday with sustained winds of 150 kilometers an hour.

Philippine National Red Cross chairman, Senator Richard Gordon, says the rehabilitation and relief effort will be huge, and as many as 100,000 survivors will require assistance.

"The real score here is that media often plays up the dead. But really the living, those that have lost their homes, lost food supplies, lost livelihood, these are the people that are really the most vulnerable at this time and these are the people that will need the assistance from humanitarian groups," he said.

President Gloria Arroyo has ordered the military to help medical teams reach devastated areas and disaster agencies have made appeals for water, medicine, and body bags.

Typhoon Durian weakened Friday as it headed away from the Philippines for the South China Sea.

The Philippines, a nation of 7,000 islands, is frequently lashed by typhoons and tropical storms. One of the worst disasters in recent years struck in 1991 when more than 5,000 people died on the central island of Leyte in floods caused by a typhoon.

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