PADANG, Philippines -- Rescuers scouring mountain villages buried under mud and boulders loosened by a powerful typhoon discovered more bodies yesterday, raising the death total to more than 300, with another 300 missing.
Officials fear the number of those killed by Typhoon Durian will rise as rescue operations continue in devastated villages on the slopes of the Mayon volcano, 210 miles southeast of Manila in the northern Philippines.
The first funerals were carried out yesterday as bodies rapidly decomposed in the tropical heat.
The Disaster Coordinating Council of worst hit Albay Province reported 285 dead, including 165 in the town of Guinobatan, swamped by floodwaters in the volcano's foothills. At least 66 people were reported dead in three towns on Mayon's slopes.
Another 300 people were missing, and the storm affected 800,000 people, officials said. Four other provinces reported deaths, but accurate figures were difficult to determine, with the disaster's devastation so widespread and power and phone lines down.
"We need food, tents, water, body bags," said Philippine Red Cross official Andrew Nocon.
In Padang, a few miles from Guinobatan, houses were buried under mud and debris, with only roofs protruding. Power pylons were toppled, a two-lane highway became a one-lane, debris-strewn road with scattered overturned trucks and a backhoe half-buried by a massive boulder.
Some of the bodies recovered there had been washed out to sea and brought back by currents to the shores of an adjacent town.
Silangan Santander, 21, attended funeral services for her brother, Larry, whose widow is five months pregnant.
"In the community where my brother lived, all the houses there were gone," she said. "There are only rocks, sand, and water."
Ash and boulders had been building on the slopes of the 8,077-foot Mayon -- one of 22 active volcanoes in the Philippines -- which has been more active in recent months. Typhoon Durian's winds of 139 mph and drenching rain on Thursday raked it down on the deluged villages.