Homeless typhoon victims are transported on a motorcycle after Typhoon Bopha hit Compostela Valley in the southern Philippines. REUTERS/Erik De Castro
Rescue workers have found a 77-year-old man who survived on
coconuts for two days after a powerful typhoon ravaged the
south of the Philippines killing 332 people, with hundreds
A group of rescue volunteers lifted Carlos Agang to safety
after they found him, in a tattered shirt with a fractured
leg and bruises, clinging to a boulder by a river in New
Bataan town in Compostela Valley, the province worst hit by
"I can't believe it. I didn't expect to see people survive
two days after they were swept by flood and mud," fire
volunteer Mark Roman Jumilla told Reuters.
"For two days, he survived on coconut and water. He lost his
family when floodwaters swept a temporary shelter area where
he and his family sought refuge," Jumilla said.
Rescuers also found a pregnant woman on the other side of the
river with her one-year son after escaping floods that
swamped their house after typhoon Bopha hit land on Tuesday
"It happened so fast. Water came rushing to us while we were
leaving our house to move to safer grounds," Lenlen Medrano,
23, told Reuters as she was being carried by soldiers in a
"I prayed hard over and over until we found ourselves on the
riverbank," she added.
A Reuters photographer saw four bodies near the spot where
Agang was rescued. The river's current was strong, making it
hard for rescue teams to reach other survivors.
Typhoon Bopha, with central winds of up to 115kmh and
gusts of up to 145kmh was moving west-northwest of the
central Philippines and was expected to be over the South
China Sea on Friday.
The head of the national disaster agency said 332 people were
killed and 379 were missing after Bopha triggered landslides
and floods along the coast and in farming and mining towns
inland in the southern Mindanao region.
The death toll could rise further, with local government
officials reporting higher numbers of missing and dead.
About 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year, often
causing death and destruction. Almost exactly a year ago,
Typhoon Washi killed 1500 people in Mindanao.
Arturo "Arthur" Uy, governor of Compostela Valley, said the
latest estimates show 200 died and almost 600 remained
missing in his province. Official tally by the disaster
agency earlier on Thursday show 184 died and 356 missing in
Uy said search and rescue operations were continuing,
particularly in far-flung areas in New Bataan town, where a
three-year old child was plucked from under a crumpled house
on Wednesday, more than 24 hours after the typhoon made
landfall. The child's mother and a sibling are missing.
"I believe we can rescue more people," Uy told Reuters.
"This is the first time a typhoon with signal number 3
crossed our province. We evacuated people from riverbanks and
shorelines. But the floods and strong winds battered not just
the riverbanks but also places where residents where supposed
to be safe."
Uy said a village hall, health centre and covered court in
New Bataan, where residents took shelter ahead of the
typhoon, were completely washed away by floods and mud.
Nearly 200,000 people remained in shelters in more than a
dozen provinces in the southern Philippines, as officials
appealed for food, water and clothing.
A few residents in Compostela Valley started repairing their
houses, while housewives washed mud-drenched clothes and used
fallen trees for cooking in makeshift stoves outside homes.
But for majority, rebuilding will not be easy.
"I don't know what to do now," coconut farmer Roger Calarian
told Reuters while queueing for a rice ration at the center
of New Bataan town. "I lost my house, I lost my livelihood. I
want to rebuild my hut but I don't think I have the energy to
do that now."
Calarian said he and his wife were lucky to have survived
when coconut trees crashed on their house on Tuesday. "We
prayed, hugged each other until the winds calmed down, and
then we crawled out to safety," he added.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said small-scale mining is
partly to blame for the disaster, adding officials of
Compostela Valley gave out mining permits even if the
national government has not allowed small scale mining in the