56 bodies found in New Bataan

By Raffy Santos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 13 2012 10:36 PM | Updated as of Dec 14 2012 08:18 AM

Fallen trees, thick mud hamper rescue, relief ops

Many residents flee Purok Syete; 400 others still missing

NEW BATAAN (UPDATE) - Together with the 66th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, an ABS-CBN News team headed to Purok Syete in Barangay Cogonon, New Bataan, Compostela Valley. We saw scenes of devastation similar to those in other areas where Typhoon Pablo wreaked havoc more than a week ago.

We had to walk for two kilometers before reaching the area.

Aside from fallen trees blocking the way, the mud also made the trek difficult.

One wrong step and you could fall.

After we crossed the river, we saw eight unidentified bodies recovered by a Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) rescue team.

The bodies were decomposing and unrecognizable. Two of them were children.

Aldo Mayor is a veteran rescuer, but even he was stunned by the extent of Pablo's devastation.

"Ngayon ko lang nakita ang danyos na ganito na massive. First time ko nakita na ganitong kalaking magnitude ng flashflood," said Mayor.

A few moments later, rescuers found another body underneath the mud and a fallen tree.

They had to use a chainsaw to retrieve it.

Among those who were able to survive is Narsing Loreta.

He hid inside his wood-fired oven as his neighbors' homes were being washed out by raging water from the mountains.

Many residents have fled Purok 7, fearing a repeat of the tragedy.

The military says they recovered 56 bodies on Thursday alone.

More than 400 others are still missing. -- ANC