12/01/2006, 00.00
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200 killed as Typhoon Durian strikes Philippines

The official death toll is 146 but rescuers are finding more bodies. The Category 5 typhoon coincided with the awakening of Mayon volcano, which spewed debris on more than seven villages.

Legazpi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Typhoon Durian claimed around 200 victims when it hit the east of the Philippines overnight, according to the local Red Cross chief. Richard Gordon also said: "Another 75 people are missing."

The typhoon is Category 5, the highest. Its fury re-awakened Mayon volcano, 320km south of Manila, which spewed up mud, debris and boulders. The subsequent flows buried two villages in the area and affected another five at least.

At the moment, the ascertained death toll is 146, but another 20 bodies were recovered in Padang village, which was damaged by the hail of debris. Jukes Nunez of the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council in Albay, said another nine bodies were found in Daraga and 26 people were killed in Santo Domingo, where 13 are missing.

Padang village is situated on the spur of Mayon volcano that erupted in July, spewing millions of tons of stones and ash down its slopes.

Access to the village is now limited: the bridge linking it to the city was damaged and it can be travelled only on foot or by car. The Filipino President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, has sent the army to deliver emergency aid to the stricken population.

In recent days, Typhoon Durian packed winds of up to 225km per hour. Around 22,000 people were stricken by the floods. Damage to agriculture alone was estimated to be at least 7.6 million euros. 

Durian is the fourth typhoon in three months in the Philippines. Now it has moved to the seas of southern China, where it should weaken before hitting the coasts of Vietnam. In August, Typhoon Xangsane claimed a death toll of 213 victims in the Philippines. Experts have warned of another typhoon before their season is up.

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See also
Hopes fade of finding survivors buried in mud after typhoon
Philippines: fears over Bulusan volcano, 500 families evacuated
Philippines, 50 thousand people evacuated from the path of Mayon volcano
A "saddened" Pope prays for victims of typhoon Durian
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