MANILA, Philippines -- The death toll from typhoon "Pablo" (international codename "Bopha") has reached 955, with 841 still missing, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Saturday morning.
NDRRMC Executive Director Benito Ramos told radio dzMM he fears that the number of missing victims in typhoon-hit areas in Mindanao would still add to the total number of casualties.
But the NDRRMC, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard will not stop with their rescue operations, he assured.
"Tuluy-tuloy pa rin 'yung apat na operations natin, 'yung search, rescue, retrieval saka relief operations. Dahil 'di pa tayo nawawalan ng pag-asa na 'yung mga mangingisda lalo na ay buhay pa sila," Ramos said.
He said search operations have proven to be difficult due to the thick mud and rocks as big as houses and vehicles. The rotting corpses of animals also confuse K-9 units searching for missing people.
Ramos said they are now looking into the possibility of using explosive devices to dislodge large pieces of rock.
"Kailangang pasabugin 'yung bato na malalaki kaya kailangan 'yung explosives expert natin para lang lumiit 'yung mga bato na sinlalaki ng kotse at bahay, pati ung logs," he said.
Meanwhile, one of the current priorities of the government is the building of bunk houses to provide shelter for residents whose homes were destroyed by strong winds due to Pablo.
Social Welfare and Development Sec. Dinky Soliman said the agency on Monday will start implementing a cash for work program, where local residents will be paid to help build bunk houses.
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.