Typhoon Durian leaves 1,000 dead in Philippines chaos

President Gloria Arroyo declared a state of national calamity yesterday as the Philippines began taking stock after Typhoon Durian, which pummelled the the country last Thursday triggering landslides that are feared to have killed more than 1,000 people.

Hope of finding more survivors was fading by the hour as rescuers struggled to reach affected areas.

Whole villages and farming communities - mainly in Albay province south-east of the capital Manila - were left buried under tons of black, suffocating sludge. A spokesperson for the Red Cross, Richard Gordon, last night put the estimate at over 1,000 dead, describing the scenes as that of a war zone. "There are many unidentified bodies. There could be a lot more hidden below. Whole families may have been wiped out," he said. The Red Cross put the death toll at 406, with a further 398 others missing.

Farmlands in the area are said to have been the worst hit with no survivors having been pulled from the mud and debris alive. Rescue workers were pessimistic that anyone buried would now be found alive.

After surveying the blackened wasteland, David Quintana, a Spanish rescue volunteer, said: "If it would be like this, chances are zero because you cannot breathe, there is no air."

Torrential rain and winds of up to 165mph had first hit the Mayon volcano four days ago, dislodging ash and boulders which caused walls of black sludge to cascade down its slopes, engulfing entire villages, even taking people out to sea.

One survivor, Glenn Lorica, 22, said his family's house in Albay's Daraga town was wiped out by a torrent of mud, uprooted trees, rocks and debris, sweeping him and loved ones away.

Lying badly injured on a hospital bed in Legazpi, he recalled the nightmarish ordeal that only he and a younger sister survived.

"I told myself that if I would die, so be it," Mr Lorica said, recalling how he struggled to stay afloat in the rampaging mud flow by grabbing hold of trees while being battered by rocks and other debris. Seven other members of Mr Lorica's family - his father, mother, two sisters, an uncle and a niece - are still missing.

Fernando Gonzales, governor of Albay province, said a six-foot high wall of water had crashed down from the volcano. "We haven't seen anything like this perhaps in hundreds of years. We lost everything."

More than 100 miners arrived to help locate survivors as President Arroyo announced yesterday she would be releasing 1bn pesos (£10m) for reconstruction work, vowing further efforts to aid rescue missions.

Canada has so far pledged more than US $800,000 (£404,000) and Japan says it will give more than $170,000 (£86,000). There is an urgent need for fresh water, food and medicine as well as body bags.

Many victims have been buried in mass graves as a precaution against the spread of disease.

Aid officials used helicopters to survey the worst affected areas and estimated more than 40,000 people have been displaced.

Typhoon Durian - named after a pungent, spiky fruit, loathed by foreign tourists but seen as a delicacy by locals - is the fourth to hit the country in as many months.

The World Meteorological Association had reported a moderate increase in sea surface temperature across the South Pacific region which is known as the El Niño phenomenon, which occurs every three to seven years, producing wildly erratic weather conditions.

The storm destroyed 28,119 houses and damaged 91,430 in eight provinces, a government agency said. The typhoon affected 832,549 people and led to the evacuation of more thn 44,000 in 12 provinces. Most of the provinces the storm passed through are among the country's main coconut producers. The Philippines is the world's biggest exporter of coconut oil.

Since 1991, floods and landslides triggered by typhoons have displaced about one million families and killed at least 10,000 people, according to the website of the Haribon Foundation, a Philippine environmental group.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Representative

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To promote and sell the Company...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager - Civil Engineering

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Business: This company is going thro...

Tradewind Recruitment: KS1 & KS2 Teachers Required

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind Recruitment are currently working...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea