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'Foul smell becoming strong' in Philippines typhoon death toll

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 7th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Typhoon Bopha has killed at least 420 people in the southern Philippines, with nearly 400 other people still reported as missing. Survivors have begun the grim task of burying their loved ones as rescue teams continue their search for survivors.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Officials in Compostela Valley, one of the worst-hit provinces on the island of Mindanao, have considered mass graves for all the unclaimed bodies killed by the typhoon which struck Mindanao Island on Tuesday, triggering landslides and flash floods.

"We are thinking of burying the unclaimed bodies on health concerns," Major General Ariel Bernardo, an army division commander told Reuters news agency. "The foul smell is becoming strong."

In addition to the dead and missing, at least 250,000 people have been left homeless after the storm.

The United Nations has offered to mobilize international support for to help authorities deal with the disaster. A spokesman said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had sent "sincere condolences" to the Philippine government.

The majority of the confirmed dead had lived in a steep valley in the country's south. Areas that were assumed safe from high water flooding, such as two emergency shelters, became among the worst hit in the onslaught. A flash flood swamped the two emergency shelters in the New Bataan village of Andap, killing 80 people.

Authorities estimate that 215 victims died in Compostela Valley and more than 151 perished in nearby Davao Oriental province, with the rest were in other central and southern provinces.

Now weakened, Bopha is slowly moving north-northwest towards the South China Sea.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino visited communities devastated by a deadly typhoon. He says he will find ways to prevent storm disasters.

"We want to find out why this tragedy happened and how to keep these tragedies from happening again," he told dazed survivors after arriving by helicopter in New Bataan which bore the brunt of the deadly cyclone.

"I am here to listen and hear explanations. This is not a time for accusations. It is a time for work," Aquino said. The president help hand out food packs to about 2,000 people sheltering at a government gymnasium, one of the few structures left standing.

Boxer Manny Pacquiao has also pledged support for the victims of the devastating typhoon.

"I am aware of what is going on, and my prayers are with the people of the Philippines," Pacquiao said. "I have people who are monitoring the situation, and they will handle anything I asked them to do."

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