Typhoon death toll at 647 in Philippines

Dec. 10, 2012 at 8:52 AM
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MANILA, Philippines, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Rescuers said they were searching for hundreds of people, missing since Typhoon Bopha devastated the Philippines. The death toll stood at 647.

The typhoon, known locally as Pablo, hit the country Tuesday, destroying homes and causing extreme flooding.

The number of missing people climbed sharply to about 780 during the weekend when officials learned of the disappearance of 300 fishermen who had left from the port city of General Santos before the storm, CNN reported Monday.

A report from National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Executive Director Benito Ramos said an estimated 368,672 people were being housed in 173 evacuation centers and about $14.8 billion of damage to agriculture, infrastructure and private property had been recorded.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III declared a state of national calamity, releasing emergency funds and putting price controls on basic goods, CNN reported.

Several government departments canceled their Christmas parties and the president requested the holiday be celebrated in a subdued manner, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

"How does one celebrate when you know that there is misery when people are missing? How can one celebrate and fully enjoy knowing that there are fellow brethren who have family members that cannot be found, cannot be accounted for?'' a presidential spokesman said.

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