ucanews.com reporters, Manila
Updated: December 05, 2012 09:41 PM GMT
More than 200 people have been reported dead and at least 200 others remain missing as heavy rain and strong winds brought by Typhoon Bopha ravaged much of the southern Philippines today.
The death toll is expected to rise as local governments and military officials report landslides and flashfloods, said Benito Ramos, executive director of the disaster council.
Most of the fatalities came from the provinces of Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Siquijor, he said.
Authorities said at least 120,000 people in 13 provinces were affected by the typhoon as it crossed the southern islands of Mindanao and the Visayas. At least 86,912 people took shelter in 162 evacuation centers.
“The most difficult challenge we face is the restoration of power to the entire province, due to electric pylons that were toppled during the typhoon," said Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Mar Roxas
The National Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organization, meanwhile, called on the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to open its parishes and churches in Mindanao to shelter tens of thousands of people left homeless by Typhoon Bhopa.
The group appealed to the bishops "to instruct the archdioceses and dioceses, social action centers, local churches and parishes in opening the gates of heaven for those who need protection and shelter of the Church."
Fernando Hicap, the federation's chairperson, said the failure of the government to provide enough shelters for flood and disaster victims prompted the organization to appeal for help from the bishops.
"Ordinary and poor people are living in life threatening conditions, and we hope this situation merits the attention of the CBCP leadership," Hicap said.
President Benigno Aquino announced at least P8 billion in aid for victims and damaged infrastructure.
Typhoon Bopha made landfall on the eastern coast of Mindanao early yesterday. It was the 16th storm this year to hit the Philippines.
In December last year, Mindanao was ravaged by tropical storm Washi, which killed at least 1,200 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.