MANILA, Philippines – More body bags and coffins are needed in New Bataan, the Compostela Valley town hardest hit by typhoon "Pablo", Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas said on Thursday.
Roxas, who visited Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental on Wednesday to oversee the government's relief efforts, said more body bags and coffins are needed since some of the corpses remain lying on the mud-covered ground.
"Medyo [kailangan ng] ataol, kapos talaga. Pati body bags, doon sa New Bataan, yung bagsak ng body bags mula sa Department of Health ay 50. Eh 78 na ang bangkay doon na na-recover," Roxas told dzMM.
"Nakakaawa kasi nakahilera lang sila doon," he added.
Roxas said out of the 78 corpses, 50 have already been identified and claimed by their families. He said the still unclaimed bodies were already bloated and near decomposition stage.
"'Yung iba sa kanila hindi na marecognize dahil bloated, dahil baon sa putik, baon sa lupa, unrecognizable na nga," he said.
The DILG chief said the death toll in the ravaged town is expected to rise, with 319 still missing.
Roxas said efforts to retrieve the missing bodies remain futile.
Local authorities said an initial assessment suggested that a large pool of water in the mountain collapsed, causing the mudslide that buried the residents.
Meanwhile, Roxas said some areas in Davao Oriental, which also bore Pablo's brunt after it made landfall there on Tuesday, remain isolated, making it hard for relief goods to reach the affected residents.
Roxas said he has ordered LGUs to activate their calamity funds to fast-track the distribution of the relief goods in isolated areas.
He said rescuers will now use boats to reach the coastal towns isolated by the typhoon.
The DILG chief is set to visit other areas affected by the typhoon, including Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de Oro, Leyte, Negros Oriental and Panay.