News / Asia

Typhoon Death Toll Rising in Southern Philippines

Residents pass by bodies recovered from flashflood in New Bataan, Compostela Valley province, southern Philippines, December 5, 2012.
Residents pass by bodies recovered from flashflood in New Bataan, Compostela Valley province, southern Philippines, December 5, 2012.
Simone Orendain
The southern half of the Philippines is reeling from a major typhoon that has so far left more than 230 people dead. The state weather bureau says Typhoon Bopha is on a northwest path from the country’s western-most island province of Palawan.

Officials say they are now focused on rescue and relief efforts after Typhoon Bopha barreled through the southern Philippines Tuesday, packing winds that peaked at 210 kilometers per hour. The powerful gusts shattered homes to splinters, uprooted trees and blew down power lines and cell towers. Heavy rains caused waist-high flooding and multiple landslides.

  • Relatives grieve as they view bodies recovered from floods in New Bataan, Compostela Valley province, southern Philippines, December 5, 2012.
  • A rescuer covers bodies recovered from a flash flood in New Bataan, Compostela Valley province, southern Philippines, December 5, 2012.
  • Filipino soldiers search for victims and survivors amid the devastation left by Typhoon Bopha, in the village of Andap, New Bataan township, Compostela Valley in southern Philippines, December 5, 2012.
  • Residents cross a river in the flash flood-hit village of Andap, New Bataan township, Compostela Valley in southern Philippines, December 5, 2012.
  • Residents cross a river using suspended ropes at Andap, New Bataan township, Compostela Valley in southern Philippines, December 5, 2012, a day after Typhoon Bopha made landfall.
  • Residents wait for relief supplies at the flash flood-hit village of Andap, New Bataan township, Compostela Valley in southern Philippines, December 5, 2012, a day after the devastating Typhoon Bopha made landfall.
  • Residents make their way through a flooded area of New Bataan township, Compostela Valley in southern Philippines, December 5, 2012, a day after Typhoon Bopha made landfall.
  • Philippine National Police clear a highway of toppled coconut trees after Typhoon Bopha made landfall in Compostela Valley, December 4, 2012.
  • Workers clear a highway of toppled trees after Typhoon Bopha made landfall in Compostela Valley, Philippines, December 4, 2012.
  • Residents retrieve their belongings after their house was destroyed by a fallen tree caused by Typhoon Bopha in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines, December 4, 2012.
  • Residents saw an uprooted tree to clear the road after Typhoon Bopha hit Tagum City, Philippines, December 4, 2012.
  • A dog is chained near a damaged house after Typhoon Bopha made landfall in Compostela Valley, December 4, 2012.

The civil defense office says close to 100,000 people have been evacuated. Civil Defense Chief Benito Ramos says the military, national police and other agencies are still trying to get people to safety.

He says good weather Wednesday has allowed rescue workers to use the military’s limited number of helicopters. But Ramos says, in some cases, rescuers are resorting to traveling on foot because of the obliterated and mud-caked roads.

“If the roads and bridges are collapsed [and] the use of aircraft is not feasible, then we use the Army personnel to bring in food and non-food items to devastated areas, especially those areas that are far-flung,” he said.

Ramos says most of the deaths have been reported in the Compostela Valley on the eastern edge of Mindanao, the country’s largest island in the south. Numerous landslides buried people and covered entire towns in mud.

Ramos says Davao Oriental, next to the Valley, and along the east coast was also particularly hard hit. Nearby Surigao del Sur province is completely in the dark and has been placed under a “state of calamity” by national government.

Gwendolyn Pang with the Philippine Red Cross says, in addition to difficulty in trying to get into the remote areas, the organization’s chapter offices are having a hard time communicating with stranded residents.

“In terms of lifelines, there’s no power supply in most of the areas in Mindanao and there’s intermittent connection of mobile lines,” she said.

A cell phone charging station set up in one town has more than 2,000 people said to be waiting in line to recharge their devices.

Ramos says the death toll is expected to rise, but authorities are hopeful the numbers will not be nearly as high as those of a year ago. Last December, more than 1,200 people died after Tropical Storm Washi inundated northern Mindanao, catching government agencies by surprise.

In response, President Benigno Aquino ordered scientists and the state weather bureau to come up with a flood and hazard mapping system to help forecast such disasters. In a news briefing Wednesday, he noted the ability to better predict the disaster and prepare this time may be contributing to the lower figures but said, “Any single casualty is a cause for distress.”

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs