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Typhoon death toll rises to more than 300 in Philippines

This news story was published on December 6, 2012.
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By Ellen Cruz –

MANILA, Philippines — An estimated 325 people have been killed by Typhoon Bopha in the central and southern Philippines, with 411 injured and 379 missing, officials said Thursday.

Most of the victims were killed by falling trees and flash floods during the height of the storm on Tuesday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, or NDRRMC, said.

“We have 325 dead and this is expected to rise because many more are missing,” Benito Ramos, head of the Civil Defense Office, told a news conference.

Disruptions to communications made it hard to determine and update precise casualty numbers, he said.

“Communications are bogged down, there is no electricity, roads and bridges have been destroyed,” Ramos said. “We’re still in search-and-rescue mode.”

Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, the two provinces hardest hit, accounted for 220 of the deaths as of late Wednesday, according to the military.

Nearly 190,000 people remained in evacuation centers, the NDRRMC said. Several of the shelters, including school buildings, were damaged by winds or mudslides.

“Sad to say in Davao Oriental, because of strong winds and rain, even evacuation centers have collapsed,” Major General Ariel Bernardo, head of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said in a radio interview.

Authorities said they hoped to restore electricity to affected areas of Davao Oriental “before Christmas, (so) we could light up the areas,” Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said in a radio interview Thursday.

The Philippines is hit by around 20 typhoons a year, many of them destructive, but Mindanao has been spared the worst of the damage until recent years.

In December, Typhoon Washi hit the island leaving 1,268 dead mainly in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities. Authorities said the high toll was due to poor advance warnings, and that residents received better notification ahead of Bopha’s arrival.

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