Residents in the southern Philippines buried their dead on Friday even as rescue workers continued scouring remote areas for survivors of Typhoon Bopha, the nation’s strongest storm this year, which killed 418 people and left nearly as many missing.
Officials in Compostela Valley, one of the worst hit provinces on the resource-rich island of Mindanao, were considering mass graves for unclaimed bodies killed by the typhoon which hit two days ago.
Bopha cut a swath of destruction in the valley, flooding farming and mining towns and burying many people in mudslides.
“We are thinking of burying the unclaimed bodies on health concerns,” Major General Ariel Bernardo, an army division commander in the southern Philippines, told Reuters.
“The foul smell is becoming strong.”
Blocked roads and severed communications in the southern Philippines frustrated rescuers on Wednesday as teams searched for hundreds of people missing after the strongest typhoon this year killed at least 283 people.
Typhoon Bopha, with central winds of 120 kph (75 mph) and gusts of up to 150 kph (93 mph), battered beach resorts and dive spots on Palawan island on Wednesday but it was weakening as it moved west.
Hardest hit was the southern island of Mindanao, where Bopha made landfall on Tuesday. It triggered landslides and floods along the coast and in farming and mining towns inland.
Interior Minister Manuel Roxas said 300 people were missing.
“Entire families were washed away,” Roxas, who inspected the disaster zone, told reporters.
New Jersey Transit’s struggle to recover from Superstorm Sandy is being compounded by a pre-storm decision to park much of its equipment in two rail yards that forecasters predicted would flood, a move that resulted in damage to one-third of its locomotives and a quarter of its passenger cars.
That damage is likely to cost tens of millions of dollars and take many months to repair, a Reuters examination has found.
The Garden State’s commuter railway parked critical equipment - including much of its newest and most expensive stock - at its low-lying main rail yard in Kearny just before the hurricane. It did so even though forecasters had released maps showing the wetland-surrounded area likely would be under water when Sandy’s expected record storm surge hit. Other equipment was parked at its Hoboken terminal and rail yard, where flooding also was predicted and which has flooded before.
Among the damaged equipment: nine dual-powered locomotive engines and 84 multi-level rail cars purchased over the past six years at a cost of about $385 million.
The American Red Cross said on Sunday it regrets not responding sooner to areas on the U.S. East Coast hardest hit by superstorm Sandy and is working aggressively to distribute food, water and other supplies to victims across New York and New Jersey.
The privately funded organization blamed flooding and other infrastructure problems for its slow response to the storm, which has killed more than 110 people and caused billions in property damage.
The delay in relief response from the Red Cross has been widely criticized by politicians. James Molinaro, president of Staten Island, a New York City borough roughly a 25-minute ferry ride from Lower Manhattan, went so far as to ask residents not to donate to the Red Cross.
“Do we wish we could have been there sooner? You bet,” said Roger Lowe, a spokesman for the American Red Cross.
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Monday launched an investigation into post-Sandy price gouging after receiving hundreds of complaints from consumers across the state.
Schneiderman said his office has received complaints from consumers from areas of the state hit hardest when the massive storm struck one week ago - New York City, the Hudson Valley and Long Island.
The largest number of complaints are related to increased gasoline prices, he said in a statement, but consumers also have reported possible gouging for emergency supplies like generators, hotels raising rates due to “high demand,” as well as increased prices for food and water.
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Hurricane Sandy is seen on the east coast of the United States in this NASA handout satellite image taken at 0715 GMT, October 29, 2012.
Hurricane Sandy, a mammoth storm menacing the East Coast, took aim at the most densely populated U.S. region on Monday, forcing hundreds of thousands to seek higher ground, halting public transport and closing schools, businesses and government departments.
About 50 million people from the Mid-Atlantic to Canada were in the path of the storm, which forecasters say could be the largest ever to hit the U.S. mainland. It is expected to topple trees, damage buildings and cause widespread power outages over the next few days. [REUTERS/NASA/NOAA/GOES Project/Handout]
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