The Philippines is also counting economic losses. Banana growers reported that 14,000 hectares (34,600 acres) of export banana plantations, equal to 18 percent of the total in Mindanao, were destroyed. The Philippines is the world’s third-largest banana producer and exporter, supplying international brands such as Dole, Chiquita and Del Monte.
Stephen Antig, executive director of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association, said losses were estimated at 12 billion pesos ($300 million), including 8 billion pesos ($200 million) in damaged fruits that had been ready for harvest, and the rest for the cost of rehabilitating farms, which will take about a year.
At the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI expressed closeness to the people hit by the typhoon. ‘‘I pray for the victims, for their families and for the many homeless,’’ the pontiff said Saturday, addressing pilgrims and tourists from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
Associated Press writers Oliver Teves and Hrvoje Hranjski in Manila, Francisco Rosario in Bangkok, Thailand, and Frances D'Emilio in Rome contributed to this report.