Philippines Typhoon death toll over 300 & continues to climb

PADANG, Philippines (AP) — Rescuers scouring mountain villages buried under mud and boulders loosened by a powerful typhoon discovered more bodies Saturday, raising the death total to more than 300, with another 300 missing.

Officials fear the number of those killed by Typhoon Durian will rise as rescue operations continue in devastated villages on the slopes of the Mayon volcano, 210 miles southeast of Manila in the northern Philippines.

The first funerals were carried out Saturday evening as bodies rapidly decomposed in the tropical heat.

The Disaster Coordinating Council of worst-hit Albay province reported 285 dead, including 165 in the town of Guinobatan, swamped by floodwaters in the Mayon volcano’s foothills. At least 66 people were reported dead in three towns on Mayon’s slopes.

Another 300 people were missing, and the storm affected 800,000 people, officials said. Four other provinces reported deaths, but accurate figures were hard to come by, with the disaster’s devastation so widespread and power and phone lines down.

“We need food, tents, water, body bags,” Philippine National Red Cross official Andrew Nocon told DZMM radio. “We sent initially 300 bags, but we need more.”

In Padang, a few miles from Guinobatan, houses were buried under mud and debris, with only roofs protruding. Power pylons were toppled, a two-lane highway became a one-lane, debris-strewn road with overturned trucks scattered about and a backhoe half-buried by a massive boulder.

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