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More bodies turning up in Tacloban
Publication Date : 09-01-2014
Piles of debris left by Supertyphoon Yolanda here continue to disgorge the bodies of those who died in the world’s strongest storm in recent history.
A group called Task Force Cadaver, formed by the city government, said members of the task force are still retrieving bodies from piles of debris in different parts of this city, which bore the brunt of Yolanda.
Senior Supt. Pablo Cordeta, head of the task force, said the team has been recovering five to seven bodies every day, and expects to find even more.
Cordeta said clearing activities in the villages, especially where there are still heaps of uncollected garbage left by the storm, are helping in the team’s recovery operations.
As of January 4, the task force, which has resumed operations after the Christmas break, has recovered 17 more bodies, mostly in the San Jose district, composed of several coastal villages.
All bodies collected by the task force are brought to Barangay (village) Suhi, 13 kilometres north of the city proper.
Tecson John Lim, city administrator, said at least 1,305 bodies had been brought to the village of Suhi where these had been buried in a mass grave in the compound of the village’s health centre.
Lim said the burial of the bodies had been finished on January 5.
Aside from corpses that had been buried in Suhi, at least 1,200 more bodies had been buried at the public cemetery of Basper town, he said.
Lim said that 66 bodies still have to be buried as they are still being processed by the National Bureau of Investigation’s forensic experts.
NBI forensic experts collect marks or specimens such as clothes, small bones and dental parts, among others, for identification. The specimens are to be kept for future reference.
Lim said the bodies are, in the meantime, being kept in a refrigerated trailer van donated by the Philippine Red Cross.
He said the death toll in Tacloban City alone has gone past 2,000.
Villagers had been taking part in clearing operations that are part of a cash-for-work program launched by the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation.
The foundation pays villagers 500 pesos (US$11) each for a day’s work.
The United Nations Development Program has also initiated a separate cash-for-work program for villagers helping in clearing operations in the city.
The government has slowed the counting of the dead in areas hit by Yolanda after President Aquino, in a CNN interview, disputed initial reports that the death toll from the 300 kph typhoon is likely to hit 10,000.
Aquino, during the CNN interview, said the death toll could be closer to 2,000.
The burial of the dead in this city and other areas struck by Yolanda has been delayed because of continuing rain in the areas and by the slow process of collecting DNA samples that could help in the identification process.