NEW BATAAN, Philippines
Stunned parents searching for missing children examined a row of mud-stained bodies covered with banana leaves while survivors dried their soaked belongings on roadsides as the death toll from the southern Philippines’ powerful typhoon climbed to about 350 people today with nearly 400 missing.
The Office of Civil Defense reported that more bodies were retrieved from hardest-hit Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental as well as six other provinces.
At least 200 of the victims died in Compostela Valley alone when Typhoon Bopha struck Tuesday, including 78 villagers and soldiers who perished in a flash flood that swamped two emergency shelters and a military camp.
“Entire families may have been washed away,” said Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who visited New Bataan on Wednesday.
The farming town of 45,000 people was a muddy wasteland of collapsed houses and coconut and banana trees felled by Bopha’s ferocious winds.
Bodies of victims were laid on the ground for viewing by people searching for missing relatives.
Some were badly mangled after being dragged by raging floodwaters over rocks and other debris.