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Philippines typhoon death toll 'likely to hit 1,500'
by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) Dec 22, 2012


Seafloor collapse threatens tsunami
Brisbane, Australia (UPI) Dec 21, 2012 - An area of the seafloor near Australia's Great Barrier Reef is in the early stages of collapse and could trigger a tsunami, scientists say.

Marine geologists from Australia's James Cook University said 3-D mapping techniques have revealed a slab of seafloor a quarter of a cubic mile in size -- the remains of an ancient underwater landslide -- are perched on the continental shelf off the coast of Queensland, Sky News reported Friday.

"Undersea landslides are a well understood geological process, but we didn't know there were any on the Barrier Reef," university geologist Robin Beaman said.

"It is sitting on top of a submarine canyon, cutting into the slopes and it is in the preliminary stage of collapse."

The research vessel Southern Surveyor made the discovery on the deepest part of the reef where researches said they've found dozens of submarine canyons.

"It is slowly giving way although it remains stable under current conditions," Beaman said.

Exactly when it would collapse is unclear, he said.

"But it is absolutely going to collapse and when it does it will fall 1 kilometer [3,200 feet] into the adjacent basin.

"This will generate a localized tsunami that will affect the Queensland coastline, which is around 40 miles away," he said.

"We're not trying to alarm people, but we need to know it is there and what could happen when it falls."

The death toll from a typhoon that devastated the Philippines earlier this month will likely hit 1,500, making it the second deadliest since the country began keeping records, the civil defence chief said Saturday.

Benito Ramos said that so far they had counted 1,067 dead with more than 800 still missing after Tyhoon Bopha hit the southern island of Mindanao on December 4.

"It (the death toll) will go higher. But let us not assume the missing are already dead," he told AFP, estimating fatalities at "about 1,500" but adding that the search for the missing continued.

The toll from Typhoon Bopha is expected to easily exceed the 1,268 confirmed dead after Typhoon Washi struck the southern Philippines in December 2011, he said.

If the toll reaches 1,500 it would make it the second deadliest storm to hit the Philippines since 1947, when the Philippines began keeping records a year after independence.

Typhoon Thelma, which killed at least 5,101 in 1991, remains the deadliest on record, the government statistics bureau said. Typhoon Ike, which claimed 1,363 lives in 1984, is listed as second.

Thousands of people remain homeless after Typhoon Bopha brought flash floods that wiped out whole towns.

However Ramos expressed confidence there would be no rise in health problems as the government had brought enough food and medicine to care for those affected.

"It will be contained. the government presence is felt by the people already," he said.

The Philippines is hit by about 20 major storms or typhoons each year that occur mainly during the rainy season between June and October.

300,000 still homeless after Typhoon Bopha: IFRC
Hong Kong (AFP) Dec 21, 2012 - Some 300,000 people remain homeless in the Philippines following a deadly typhoon earlier this month, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said Friday.

The IFRC said urgent humanitarian assistance was needed to help around 200,000 of those affected by Typhoon Bopha -- the deadliest storm to have struck the Philippines this year, killing more than 1,000 across the archipelago.

"The situation is truly desperate," Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross said.

"So many people who had very little before the typhoon struck have been left with virtually nothing.

"The next few weeks will be critical. We have to meet people's basic daily needs, such as food and water, but they also need help to rebuild their homes and livelihoods."

Pang said the homes of at least 330,000 people had been destroyed, leaving families in temporary evacuation centres or with relatives, as the IFRC launched a 13.4 million euros ($17.7m) emergency appeal.

Typhoon Bopha slammed into the southern Philippines in early December, wreaking havoc mainly across the island of Mindanao.

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