Typhoon Sendong Death Toll to Surpass 1000; Recovery Effort Begins in Philippines

Typhoon Sendong, and the subsequent flash floods, left more than 600 people dead this weekend in the Philippines and government officials expect that number to rise. Emergency teams have started bringing food, water, and medicine to evacuation centers in the Southern Philippines while rescue teams continue to search for more than 800 people who are still missing.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that emergency workers are hurrying to dig graves in the Philippines to bury the dead. Benito Ramos, head of the national disaster agency, suggested that workers dig mass graves to prevent the spread of disease.

Ramos told Reuters:

“My suggestion is, so that illnesses won’t spread, let’s have mass graves. This will be the discretion of local governments and the DOH (Department of Health).”

But officials in Ligan city, one of the hardest hit locations, decided against it. Levi Villarin, Ligan city health officer, said:

“Definitely, we are not burying them in mass graves. That is not allowed any more,”

In Cagayan de Oro, however, officials are moving hundreds of uncalimed bodies to a sanitary landfill for a mass burial.

Yesterday, the national disaster agency placed the death toll from Typhoon Sendong at 684. The Philippine National Red Cross had the total at 652. The PhilStar announced this morning that more than 823 have died and that there are another 600 people are missing.

While health officials deal with hundreds of bodies in the Philippines, rescue teams continue searching for survivors. According to the CS Monitor, six helicopters and two dozen boats were dispatched to look for survivors. Ramos, however, was doubtful about how many people would be saved.

Ramos said:

“From the helicopter, we saw four major river systems, all houses along the riverbanks were totally destroyed.”

The Philstar has several ways that you can donate to help the Typhoon Sendong relief effort.