December 6, 2012 - 10:16 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - A powerful typhoon that washed away emergency shelters, a military camp and possibly entire families in the southern Philippines has killed almost 350 people with nearly 400 missing, authorities said Thursday, Dec 6, according to The Associated Press.
More bodies were retrieved from hardest-hit Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental provinces and six others impacted by the storm, the Office of Civil Defense reported.
At least 200 of the victims died in Compostela Valley alone, 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 ferocious winds.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies issued an urgent appeal for $4.8 million to help people directly affected by the typhoon.
On Thursday, the typhoon was over the South China Sea west of Palawan province. It was blowing northwestward and could be headed to Vietnam or southern China, according to government forecasters.
Some 20 typhoons and storms lash the northern and central Philippines each year, but they rarely hit the vast southern Mindanao region where sprawling export banana plantations have been planted over the decades because it seldom experiences strong winds that could blow down the trees.
A rare storm in the south last December killed more than 1,200 people and left many more homeless.