Death toll from Philippine typhoon nears 300

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The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies issued an urgent appeal for $4.8 million to help people directly affected by the typhoon.

The sun was shining brightly for most of the day Wednesday, prompting residents to lay their soaked clothes, books and other belongings out on roadsides to dry and revealing the extent of the damage to farmland. Thousands of banana trees in one Compostela Valley plantation were toppled by the wind, the young bananas still wrapped in blue plastic covers.

But as night fell, however, rain started pouring again over New Bataan, triggering panic among some residents who feared a repeat of the previous day’s flash floods. Some carried whatever belongings they could as they hurried to nearby towns or higher ground.

After slamming into Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley, Bopha roared quickly across the southern Mindanao and central regions, knocking out power in two entire provinces, triggering landslides, and leaving houses and plantations damaged. More than 170,000 fled to evacuation centers.

As of Wednesday evening, the typhoon was over the South China Sea west of Palawan province. It was blowing northwestward and could be headed to Vietnam or southern China, according to government forecasters.

The deaths came despite efforts by President Benigno Aquino III’s government to force residents out of high-risk communities as the typhoon approached.

Some 20 typhoons and storms lash the northern and central Philippines each year, but they rarely hit the vast southern Mindanao region, where sprawling export banana plantations have been planted over the decades because it seldom experiences strong winds that could blow down the trees.

A rare storm in the south in December killed more than 1,200 people and left many more homeless.

The United States extended its condolences and offered to help its Asian ally deal with the typhoon’s devastation. It praised government efforts to minimize the deaths and damage.

Associated Press writers Jim Gomez, Teresa Cerojano and Oliver Teves in Manila contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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