Typhoon survivors in shock, disbelief
MANILA, Philippines - Survivors of Typhoon Pablo (international name Bopha) recovered in hospitals and temporary shelters on Thursday, only just beginning to take stock of what hit them.
Some were in shock or disbelief, staring into space.
In Compostela Valley, the worst hit province where around 200 people died, one child sobbed when asked about the tragedy.
Another survivor, Lisa Rosanen, has not seen her two children and her mother since the typhoon. They could not flee their home as the winds and rains were too strong, she said.
"I held my two children when a tree crashed onto our home. We were trapped beneath the tree and I heard my kids crying 'mama'. My hand slipped and that's the last time I saw them," Rosanen said.
She only returned home recently, after years of working abroad, to take care of her mother.
Officials are appealing for food, water and clothes for the typhoon survivors. More than 183,000 people are staying in evacuation centers.
Local government worker Carlito Campos and his wife have temporarily adopted a boy, who was seen crying in a shelter. The couple took the boy to a hospital for eye treatment.
Campos said the child has been asking about his parents, but they have no information on their whereabouts or even their names.
"For almost 50 years in New Bataan, that was the first time that we experienced such tragedy. I know almost all of the people there," Campos said.
Around 100 people perished in mud slides in the town of New Bataan. Victims were dragged away by rushing waters. Others were crushed by fallen trees.
The army said 342 people were killed and 416 were missing across the southern Philippines after Bopha triggered landslides and floods along the coast and in farming and mining towns inland in the southern Mindanao region.
The death toll could rise further, with local government officials reporting higher numbers of missing and dead.
In Davao Oriental, another badly hit province where more than a hundred died, some family members buried their dead in a mass grave.
Super typhoons are uncommon in this part of Mindanao, and the howling winds terrified its residents.
The governor said the disaster's impact was greater because people refused to evacuate from their homes.
Structures in three towns, including hospitals and churches, collapsed due strong winds, Governor Cora Malanyaon added.
Aid has been slow to reach the worst hit towns, as the storm destroyed roads and bridges. Some areas are still flooded, while others are covered in mud.
Thousands of homes have been damaged, leaving thousands homeless.
Soldiers, police, firemen and volunteers have been working around the clock, but the tasks of finding more survivors and burying the dead seem endless.