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Typhoon's toll in Philippines may top 600

December 03, 2006|From the Associated Press

PADANG, PHILIPPINES — Officials feared the death toll could double to 600 as rescuers continued Saturday to dig through a sea of mud and boulders searching for bodies after mudslides engulfed entire villages in the eastern Philippines.

Authorities said they knew of no survivors being pulled from the swampy land since the first hours after Typhoon Durian blasted ashore Thursday with winds gusting up to 165 mph.

The storm affected 800,000 people, officials said. The death toll passed 300 on Saturday, with about 300 more missing and prospects dwindling quickly for finding any of them alive.

The Disaster Coordinating Council of Albay, the worst-hit province, reported 285 dead, including 165 in the town of Guinobatan, swamped by floodwaters in the Mayon volcano's foothills, southeast of Manila. Three towns on Mayon's slopes each reported at least 22 dead.

"Every corner of this province has been hit. It is a total devastation," Albay Gov. Fernando Gonzalez said. "Never before in the history have we seen water like this. Almost every residential area was flooded."

Philippine National Red Cross official Andrew Nocon said, "We need food, tents, water, body bags."

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