'Pablo' toll now 902; 296 fishermen rescued
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - The toll from typhoon Pablo (Bopha) has breached the 900 mark, while 296 fishermen have been rescued from sea, more than a week after the storm hit Mindanao.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) has put the death toll at 902, with 567 identified and 335 unidentified.
The NDRRMC also reported that the number of missing people is down to 635.
In addition, the agency reports 296 fishermen have been rescued by the Task Force Maritime Search and Rescue SarGen. The fishermen came mostly from 6 different fishing companies.
A total of 415 people have been rescued throughout the disaster zone, the agency added.
The government said Wednesday it has intensified its search and rescue efforts for the missing.
Aside from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard, the Bureau of Fishing and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), volunteer civilians and the fishing industry have come together to search for survivors by land, air and sea.
The number of rescued fishermen, however, is being disputed by fishermen's groups in General Santos City.
Dino Barrientos, executive director of Umbrella Fish Landing Association, a member organization of the Soccsksargen Fishing Federation and Allied Industries, said only six of the 310 originally declared as missing from General Santos City have so far been found by local authorities.
They said the 296 was the initial number of confirmed missing, and the number went up to 310 on December 10.
It is now at 326, as more relatives have come up to report. The NDRRMC should "immediately correct" the data, they added.
The number of evacuees is down to 765,530, and a total of 63 evacuation centers are operating as of Thursday, December 13.
Damage brought by the typhoon is now pegged at P14.30 billion, with agricultural damage alone estimated to reach P9.68 billion.
The typhoon, the deadliest natural disaster to hit the Philippines this year, destroyed 149,000 houses, it said.
Fifteen "stress debriefers" are now at work in the evacuation centers still in operation to help survivors come to terms with the loss of relatives, homes and possessions.
The United Nations launched a $65 million global aid appeal for typhoon victims on Monday, saying more than five million people faced difficult conditions as they seek to rebuild their lives.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) also said Wednesday it is finalizing a department order that mandates local government units (LGUs) to use part of their calamity funds to provinces struck by Typhoon "Pablo."
The move is part of efforts to hasten recovery for the typhoon victims of typhoon Pablo.
In addition, the government of the United Kingdom will contribute P22.2 million to ongoing relief efforts.
- Rappler.com, with a report from the Agence France-Presse