Death Toll from Philippines Typhoon Passes 300

Posted December 6th, 2012 at 1:40 am (UTC-5)
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Rescuers are searching for survivors and rushing emergency aid to thousands left homeless in the southern Philippines after a powerful typhoon killed at least 325 people and left hundreds missing.

Stunned survivors searched for missing family members among rows of mud-stained bodies, while others rummaged through the remains of their houses that were destroyed by Typhoon Bopha.

Many areas were still inaccessible on Thursday, due to washed-out roads, destroyed bridges and power outages from the storm, which made landfall Tuesday, bringing powerful winds and heavy rains.

Authorities are searching for 379 people still missing and working to provide emergency shelter for the nearly 180,000 people who have been packed temporarily into schools and government buildings.

The U.S. State Department has offered disaster aid and extended its condolences for the destruction and loss of life.

By Thursday, the storm had moved west of the Philippines into the South China Sea, where forecasters say it could take aim at Vietnam or China.

The worst-hit area was the gold-mining province of Compostela Valley, a mountainous region where mudslides and flash floods washed away two emergency shelters and a military camp.

In nearby Davao Oriental province, which lies along the coast, dozens more died from flash floods and flying debris as the powerful storm made landfall on Tuesday. Officials say in some towns, few structures were left standing.

President Benigno Aquino says the government was investigating why an evacuation center and military camp were apparently located in flood-prone areas.

But officials say the government was better prepared to deal with Bopha than with Tropical Storm Washi, which killed about 1,200 people in the southern island of Mindanao last year.