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

Nearly 900 Dead, Missing in 2014 Air Disasters

Southeast Asia took a particularly heavy hit; 3 major events involved weather, two planes were shot down in eastern Ukraine, and one crash was attributed to mechanical problems More

Video Islamic State Emergence Transformed Syria, Iraq in 2014

'It was very clear that there were problems building up in Iraq at the end of 2013 but everybody was distracted by Syria,' says one expert, explaining group's rapid rise More

Rights Group: IS Executed Nearly 2,000 in Syria in 6 Months

Islamist group also killed 120 of its own members, most foreign fighters trying to return home, in past two months, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaisei
X
Daniel Schearf
December 25, 2014 4:34 PM
Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video 2014 Saw Intensification of Boko Haram Insurgency

The year 2014 saw Nigerian militant sect Boko Haram intensify its five-year insurgency and target civilians in large numbers as it seized territory in the northeast. The kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls in Chibok in April sparked global outrage, but failed to become the turning point against the sect that Nigeria’s president said it would be. The picture at year's end is one of devastation and uncertainty. VOA’s Anne Look reports.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Fight to Survive Water Crisis

In a region choking from dwindling water supplies, Lebanon has long been regarded as one of the few places where there is enough. But in recent years, half the people in the country have faced severe shortages. And the more than 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon are hit the worst by the water crisis, making the country's most vulnerable people increasingly impoverished and sick. Heather Murdock reports for VOA in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid