The number of fatalities caused by typhoon “Pablo” shot further up to 474 on Friday as authorities continue to search for 300 people who remain missing, mostly in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.

“Pablo,” the strongest storm to hit the country this year, has also left more than P4 billion worth of damage, mostly in crops and livestock, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said.

Some 223 people died of drowning and mudslides in Compostela Valley alone, the Office of Civil Defense-11 (OCD-11) said in a report Friday.

In Davao Oriental, the number of fatalities jumped to 216 after authorities found 118 bodies in Baganga, Lt. Zaida Vidad, acting spokesperson of the Army’s 701st Brigade based in Mati City said, citing figures from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

“It’s (death toll) still increasing… local authorities are considering placing the unidentified and decomposing bodies in a mass grave because of the odor,” Maj. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, told reporters by phone.

“Pablo” also killed 11 people in Northern Mindanao, 11 in Caraga region, seven in Central Visayas, two in Eastern Visayas, two in Palawan, one in Zamboanga City, and one in Capiz, the NDRRMC said.

Some 377 people were still missing in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental as of Friday morning, according to the OCD-11.

P4-B damage to agriculture, infra

As authorities continue to deal with the number of casualties, “Pablo” also reared its ugly head in terms of damages to infrastructure and agriculture, mostly in Mindanao.

The storm dealt an initially estimated P3.36 billion worth of damage to crops, livestock and fisheries in Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Northern Mindanao, Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley, and Davao Oriental, according to the NDRRMC.

Damage to infrastructure like roads, bridges, flood control system, and irrigation in those areas has been initially assessed at P630.97 million, the agency said.

The figures are expected to rise further when more reports come in from damage assessment teams.

The OCD-11 said in its report that agriculture damage in Compostela Valley alone has reached P3.4 billion, as more than 50,000 hectares of land planted with rice, corn, coconut, banana, vegetables, and other high-value crops were destroyed.

5 million affected, 26 areas under ‘calamity’

The storm affected 5,141,356 people in Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, and Caraga, according to the NDRRMC.

An estimated 15,850 houses were damaged and destroyed, forcing 310,620 people to remain in evacuation centers or take shelter at the homes of relatives and friends, the agency said.

Local authorities have declared the entire provinces of Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Surigao del Sur, and Siquijor under state of calamity, according to the NDRRMC.

Also placed under calamity status are Magsaysay, Araceli, Roxas, San Vicente, Taytay, El Nido, and Cagayancillo of Palawan; Baloi, Kapatagan, Kauswagan, Linamon, Matungao, Pantar, Pantao Ragat, and Salvador of Lanao del Norte; Gitagum, Kinoguitan, Lagonglong, Laguindingan, Libertad, Opol, Talisayan, Gingoog City, and Cagayan de Oro City of Misamis Oriental; Lopez Jaena and Plaridel, Misamis Occidental; as well as Asuncion and San Isidro of Davao del Norte. (John Roson)

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