Typhoon death toll in south Philippines pushes past 500
Officials have confirmed 252 dead in Compostela Valley, including New Bataan, and 216 in nearby Davao Oriental province. Nearly 40 others died elsewhere in the region.
The death toll is expected to surge even higher as rescuers comb through toppled homes thick with mud and debris. As of Friday afternoon, disaster relief officials reported more than 400 people were still missing.
More than 310,000 people have also lost their homes and are staying inside crowded evacuation centers with their relatives.
The Filipino national disaster agency estimates that the storm damage would exceed $97 million.
On Friday, President Benigno Aquino III led a high-level government delegation to visit areas hardest hit by Typhoon Bopha and ordered acceleration of disaster response operations. He said he would declare a state of emergency soon.
Under the national state of calamity, the government could freeze the prices of basic commodities.
Aquino also ordered Interior Minister Mar Roxas to lead a multi-agency investigation team to probe into the cause of high casualties brought about by the typhoon.
The team will look into claims that massive logging and mining activities contributed to the occurrence of deadly mudflows in the nation’s south.