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Typhoon Bopha kills at least 283; 'entire families were washed away'

ITN's Jane Deith reports. Warning: The story contains some disturbing images.

MANILA, Philippines -- Blocked roads and severed communications in the southern Philippines frustrated rescuers on Wednesday as teams searched for hundreds of people missing after the strongest typhoon this year killed at least 283 people.

Stunned parents searched for missing children while officials warned the death toll from Typhoon Bopha would likely rise.

Hardest hit was the southern island of Mindanao, where Bopha made landfall on Tuesday. It triggered landslides and floods along the coast and in farming and mining towns inland.

Interior Minister Manuel Roxas said 300 people were missing.

"Entire families were washed away," Roxas told reporters.


On a roadside, dozens of mud-stained bodies were laid side-by-side, covered by cloth and banana leaves and surrounded by villagers. A man sprayed insecticide on the remains to keep away swarms of flies.

A father wept when he lifted a plastic cover and found the body of his child. A mother, meanwhile, went away in tears, unable to find her missing children. "I have three children," she said repeatedly, flashing three fingers before a TV cameraman.

Most affected areas were cut off by destroyed roads and collapsed bridges, and army search-and-rescue teams were being flown in by helicopter. 

Thousands of people were in shelters and officials appealed for food, water and clothing. Dozens of domestic flights were suspended on Wednesday.

PhotoBlog: Grief amid Bopha's destruction

The governor of the worst-hit province, Compostela Valley in Mindanao,  said waves of water and mud came crashing down mountains and swept through schools, town halls and clinics where huddled residents had sought shelter.

The death toll in the province stood at 160. In nearby Davao Oriental province, where Bopha made landfall, 110 people were killed. 

Karlos Manlupig / AFP - Getty Images

Residents walk amongst their destroyed houses after Typhoon Bopha hit the town of Compostela on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on Tuesday.


"The waters came so suddenly and unexpectedly, and the winds were so fierce," the Compostela Valley governor, Arthur Uy, told Reuters by telephone.

He said irrigation reservoirs on top of mountains had given way sending large volumes of water down to the valleys. Torrential rain often triggers landslides down slopes stripped of their forest cover.

Corn farmer Jerry Pampusa, 42, and his pregnant wife were marooned in their hut but survived. 

"We were very scared," Pampus said. "We felt we were on an island because there was water everywhere."

Another survivor, Francisco Alduiso, said dozens of women and children who had taken shelter in a village center, had been swept away.

"We found some of the bodies about 10 kilometers (6 miles) away," Alduiso told Reuters. The only building left standing in his village was the school.

Another survivor, Julius Julian Rebucas, said his mother and brother disappeared in a flash flood.

Typhoon Bopha has killed at least 283 people in the Philippines and left hundreds more missing. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.

"I no longer have a family," a stunned Rebucas said.

An army commander said two dozen people had been pulled from the mud in one area and were being treated in hospital.

About 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year, often causing death and destruction.

Almost exactly a year ago, Typhoon Washi killed 1,500 people in Mindanao. 

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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