MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director Benito Ramos fears that the death toll due to typhoon "Pablo" could rise to nearly 2,000.
Ramos gave this estimate as 932 people are still missing and feared buried deep under thick mud in Compostela Valley.
Pablo, the worst typhoon to hit the Philippines this year, has already claimed 906 lives.
At least 505 remain missing in landslide- and flashflood-hit Compostela Valley, while 108 have yet to be accounted for in Davao Oriental, where the typhoon made its first landfall last week.
"Kung kasama itong missing [aabot na sa 2,000], pero hindi muna natin i-declare silang patay until makita," Ramos told dzMM.
Ramos said search operations have proven to be difficult due to the thick mud. The rotting corpses of animals also confuse K-9 units searching for missing people.
The NDRRMC said at least 5,516,181 people were affected by the typhoon. Of the affected residents, 59,764 remain inside evacuation centers.
The cost of damage from the typhoon now stands at P15.1 billion.