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4 Dec, 2012 09:15

Philippines typhoon death toll rises to 420 – officials

Typhoon Bopha recently swept across the southern Philippines, leaving a death toll of around 420, officials reported. More than 56,000 people were displaced by the devastating storm, and more are feared dead as rescuers continue to retrieve bodies.

At least 200 of the victims died in Compostela Valley alone, while an estimated 43 villagers and soldiers have drowned in the town of New Bataan, while in nearby Davao Oriental province, 51 people were swept away by floods.At least three children were buried by a wall of mud and boulders that plunged down a mountain in Marapat village as six more villagers have drowned in floods in Montevista town, AP reports.Philippines President Benigno Aquino warned residents in the areas affected by the typhoon to take the disaster seriously: "It could be the strongest to hit the country this year. But we can minimize the damage and loss of lives if we help each other."Some 80 domestic flights were grounded and more than 3,000 ferry passengers were stranded after the country’s coast guard ordered vessels to stay in port, AFP quoted the civil defense office as saying.

Philippines police forcibly evacuated people from low-lying areas after they refused to join an estimated 25,000 others who had sought refuge at government shelters, Cagayan de Oro city Mayor Vicente Emano said in an interview with ABS-CBN televisionForecasters reported that the storm, moving northwest, is slightly weakened at the moment. Bopha is expected to reach the country’s southern island of Negros, bringing heavy rains.A similar disaster hit the same region in 2011, killing 1,500 and affecting around 10 percent of Philippines residents.The country is hit by about 20 typhoons a year, with another storm expected around Christmas.This latest typhoon comes almost a year after a storm killed more than 1,200 Mindanao residents.