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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Hundreds of corpses unburied after Philippine typhoon
by Staff Writers
Tacloban, Philippines (AFP) Dec 28, 2013


Storm relief workers killed in Philippine collision
Manila (AFP) Dec 29, 2013 - A van carrying church volunteers returning home from Christmas relief operations in typhoon ravaged areas in the Philippines collided head on with a passenger bus Sunday, killing six, police said.

Four members of the Calamba Pastor Alliance and their driver were killed instantly in the pre-dawn accident, as well as the driver of the bus, according to a national police report in Manila.

Four others were injured and recuperating in hospital after the collision on a highway in central Sorsogon province, the police said.

The police statement did not say whether the bus was carrying any passengers at the time of the accident.

Police investigator Jose Distacamento said the group was on its way home to its ministry in Calamba town after completing a relief mission in the typhoon-hit city of Tacloban.

"Witnesses said the van was speeding along the highway and did not see the bus," he told local television.

Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the central Philippines last month, triggering tsunami-like giant waves that left at least 6,155 dead and over 1,700 officially missing.

Tacloban city was among the worst-hit areas, accounting for many of the deaths.

More than a thousand dead victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan lay unburied Saturday, seven weeks after the region was battered by the Philippines' deadliest storm, residents living alongside the stench said.

About 1,400 corpses, in sealed black body bags swarming with flies, lay on a muddy open field in San Isidro, a farming village on the outskirts of the destroyed central city of Tacloban, an AFP reporter saw.

"The stench has taken away our appetite. Even in our sleep, we have to wear face masks," said local housewife Maritess Pedrosa, who lives in a house about 20 metres (66 feet) from the roadside city government property.

Haiyan killed 6,111 people and left 1,779 others missing on November 8, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

This made the storm, which also left 4.4 million people homeless, one of the deadliest natural disasters in Philippine history.

Tacloban and nearby towns were devastated by tsunami-like giant waves unleashed by Haiyan which accounted for a majority of the dead.

The council's spokesman, Reynaldo Balido, said he was unsure if the official death toll already included the cadavers in San Isidro.

Eutiquio Balunan, the local village chief, said government workers assigned to collect the typhoon dead began trucking them to San Isidro on November 10, where they have been exposed to the tropical heat and heavy seasonal rainshowers.

There, state forensics experts try to identify the corpses, he told AFP.

The processed corpses are then turned over to relatives, while those that are unclaimed are tagged and taken to a mass grave at the city cemetery about three kilometres (1.86 miles) away.

"Our tally comprises those already tagged and processed by the local governments," Balido, the disaster council spokesman, told AFP.

Balunan, the village chief, said the processing of the cadavers had been suspended over the Christmas weekend as the forensics experts went on holiday.

"We are requesting the city government to please bury the cadavers because our children and elderly residents are getting sick," he said.

"This place has become a fly factory."

The cadavers are guarded by eight policemen. One officer who asked not to be named said they are under orders to prevent the cadavers from being eaten by stray dogs.

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