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Typhoon deaths reach 3 621

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

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GUIUAN, Philippines (AP) – People swept dirt from the pews and wiped clean the mud-covered, ornate tile floors of a church.
The sound of hammers hitting nails and the buzzing of chain saws reverberated in the streets.
Debris was piled on corners and set ablaze.
And amid all this activity, a stream of bodies continued their final journey toward a hillside mass grave where nearly 170 had been buried by Friday afternoon.
One week after Typhoon Haiyan razed the eastern part of the Philippines, killing thousands and leaving at least 600 000 homeless, resilient residents of the disaster zone were rebuilding their lives and those of their neighbors.
An international aid effort gathered steam, highlighted by the helicopter drops conducted from the American aircraft carrier USS George Washington. But the storm victims moved ahead – with or without help from their government or foreign aid groups.
Peter Degrido, a coast guard reserve, was one of the 35 workers trying to move an overturned passenger bus from a road leading to the airport in Guiuan (GEE-won), a town on Samar island.
They hitched the bus to a truck with steel cables and made slow progress. Ahead of them lay many downed electricity poles that must be moved next.
“We’re clearing debris from the roads leading to the airport and the port so that relief goods and medicine can arrive faster,” Degrido said. “It’s devastating to see this. But people are slowly recovering.”
The Philippines’ main disaster response agency raised the death toll today to 3 621, up from the previous figure of 2 360. Most of the casualties occurred on Leyte and Samar islands.
It said 1 140 people are missing and more than 12 000 injured.