Typhoon toll in Philippines could pass 1,000

(CNN) — The official toll from last weekend’s typhoon in the Philippines has risen to more than 500 people killed and could go much higher, according to the latest figures from the country’s National Disaster Coordinating Council.

A helicopter from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan passes over flooded areas on June 26.
A helicopter from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan passes over flooded areas on June 26.

More than 900 people are still listed as missing, including 669 ferry passengers and crew who have not been accounted for.

The massive Princess of the Stars capsized late Saturday as a result of Typhoon Fengshen, or “Frank.” The vessel was able to hold 2,000 people. The crew reported that its engines failed during a routine run from Manila to Cebu City.

Of the 849 passengers and crew, 124 are confirmed dead and 56 have been found alive, the NDCC said.

The overall death toll from Typhoon Frank was 505 as of Thursday evening.

“Our heart beats out and our prayers go to the victims and to the families of the victims,” Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who was in Washington, said Wednesday.

The U.S. military has sent naval craft from Okinawa and Hawaii to assist the Philippines in relief and search-and-rescue efforts. The U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was in the area Wednesday in support of relief efforts.

Typhoon Frank had not been expected to hit the Philippines last week when it formed. But it struck the islands Friday with winds of about 140 km/h (90 mph) before moving northward toward China and Taiwan. The Princess of the Stars set sail on Saturday when the typhoon was a minimal category 1 storm with winds up to 95 mph (153 kph). The storm gained strength as the vessel made its way south, creating dangerous conditions.

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