Mindanao (AsiaNews) - "The situation is tragic. Many areas are isolated and it is hard to know how many people have died or how many have been evacuated," Fr Giovanni Vettoretto told AsiaNews. A missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), the clergyman works at the mission in the Arakan Valley, one of the areas worst hit by Typhoon Bopha, which has been causing havoc on the Island of Mindanao (southern Philippines). The authorities currently put the death toll at 230 with more than 90,000 displaced.
"Rescue teams are hard pressed to reach the remotest areas, where there could be dozens of dead," the missionary added. "Water and landslides have hit numerous evacuation centres in the village of Andap (Campostela Valley) where two schools used by the displaced for shelter have collapsed."
The hardest hit areas include the provinces of Cotabato, Davao Orientale, Campostela Valley and Cagayan de Oro; this last one had already been devastated by Typhoon Washi in December 2011, with more than a thousand dead.
Fr Vettoretto said that he is contact with the dioceses and the parishes in the most affected areas, where Caritas and other organisations are already working with local authorities.
The typhoon battered the southern island of Mindanao starting yesterday, with heavy rain and winds reaching highs of 210 km/h. This forced the authorities to move tens of thousands of residents.
At present, the typhoon is travelling towards the western island of Palawan. By early tomorrow morning, it should be out into the South China Sea.
Experts do not exclude the possibility that it might reach China's coastline, sowing death and destruction. (S.C.)