Added by Erik West on December 5, 2012
As Typhoon Bopha was downgraded to the equivalent of a category one hurricane, Philippine officials said 274 people were killed, 339 were injured, and 279 people are still missing as rescuers try to reach affected areas.
Rescue operations were hampered by downed trees and impassible roads as a result of landslides in many areas, leaving many residents to rescue and search for members of their communities on their own.
A number of families were evacuated to a shelter that was severely damaged as a result of a nearby landslide, which is said to have caused the deaths of entire families.
“We had a problem where to take the evacuees. All the evacuation centers have lost their roofs,” said an official.
Many of the injuries are a result of debris from buildings, tree limbs and other debris striking people as they moved from their homes to shelters.
Dozens of bodies, recovered from affected sites, were laid side by side at the roadside, covered in cloths or banana leaves.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, visited the devastated town, and reported searches by soldiers and volunteers were not successful in finding any of the 279 missing persons in New Bataan.
Typhoon Bopha, also known as Pablo, is currently located west of the Philippine islands with winds of 150 km/h near the center of the storm. The storm is moving WNW at 20 km/h and is forecast to continue moving to the West Philippine Sea where it may remain stationary until it dissipates.
The Philippines is hit by more than 20 tropical storms each year. Bopha’s path was unusual – it did not take a path of similar storms in the past and instead struck remote communities that were not prepared for nor accustomed to strong tropical storms.