NEW BATAAN, Philippines — Rescuers were digging through mud and debris on Friday to retrieve more bodies strewn by a powerful typhoon across a farming valley in the southern Philippines. The death toll from the storm has surpassed 500, with more than 400 people missing.
More than 310,000 people have lost their homes since Typhoon Bopha struck on Tuesday and are crowded inside evacuation centers or staying with relatives, relying on food and emergency supplies rushed in by government agencies and aid groups.
“I want to know how this tragedy happened and how to prevent a repeat,” President Benigno Aquino III said during a visit to New Bataan town, the ground zero of the disaster, where ferocious winds and rains lashed the area.
Officials have confirmed 252 dead in Compostela Valley, including New Bataan, and 216 in nearby Davao Oriental province. Nearly 40 others died elsewhere, and more than 400 are still missing, about two-thirds in New Bataan alone.
Aquino told New Bataan residents gathered in the middle of toppled coconut trees and roofless houses that he was bent on seeking answers in order to improve their conditions and minimize casualties when natural disasters occur.
Fatal storms and typhoons blowing from the Pacific Ocean are common in the Philippines, but most of them hit northern and central areas, and southern Mindanao Island is usually spared.
“We are going to look at what really happened. There are allegations of illegal mining. There are allegations of the force of nature,” said Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who traveled with Aquino. “We will find out why there are homes in these geohazard locations.”
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.