Given that there are so many on the ferry unaccounted for it seems that the toll will rise still higher in the coming days. The damage to crops will make things even worse for many filipinos already facing high rice prices.
Typhoon death toll rises to 664 in Philippines
www.chinaview.cn 2008-06-28 00:40:02
MANILA, June 27 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from typhoon Fengshen has risen to 664 in the Philippines, according to the latest government data released on Friday night.
Besides those confirmed dead due to the capsizal of an ill-fated ferry, the Philippine National Disaster Coordinating Council said as of Friday evening, 540 more fatalities have been reported from all parts of the typhoon affected areas. Floods and mudflows were the major reasons for the deaths.
The M/V Princes of the Stars capsized off the Philippines' central province of Romblon last Saturday at the height of the typhoon, with 862 passengers and crew on board. The last official casualty count from the ship was placed at 124, with only 56 survivors confirmed while most of the others are still missing, mostly feared dead.
Rescue and retrieval operations inside the overturn ferry were halted on Friday following reports that the vessel was carrying a pesticide cargo.
Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez Jr said the vessel was found to be carrying 10,000 metric tons of the highly-toxic pesticide, and that authorities have shifted efforts to containing the chemical and retrieving the shipment.
The shipment retrieval is expected to start on Saturday afternoon, according to Transportation Undersecretary Elena Bautista.
Of the 540 fatalities confirmed by the disaster-relief agency, 328 have been identified while the rest 212 not yet.
At least 291 were reported injured while 277 remained missing, National Disaster Coordinating Council said in its latest report.
The agency said the typhoon affected 571,641 families or 2,875,725 persons in 46 provinces.
Of these, some 422,618 families or 2,215,529 persons have been served inside and outside evacuation centers, it added.
At least 65,413 houses were destroyed and 167,181 damaged, according to the report.
Estimated cost of damage to infrastructure and, mostly to agriculture, amounted to 6.979 billion pesos (157 million U.S. dollars), the report said.
However, the Philippine National Food Authority on Friday assured the public that there will be sufficient rice supply despite the massive devastation.
The agency's stockpile of 920,000 metric tons of rice is good for 28 days to meet the nationwide staple need, said NFA spokesman Rex Estoperez.
Fengshen entered the Philippines from the eastern Samar island on the night of June 20 and exit through the western coast of Central Luzon after two days' onslaught on the archipelago.
Editor: Mu Xuequan