NEW BATAAN, Philippines, 8 December 2012 (CBS/AP) – A typhoon that killed nearly 600 people and left hundreds more missing in the southern Philippines has made a U-turn and is now threatening the country's northwest, officials said Saturday.
The weather bureau raised storm warnings over parts of the main northern island of Luzon after Typhoon Bopha veered northeast. There was a strong possibility the disastrous storm would make a second landfall Sunday, but it might also make a loop and remain in the South China Sea, forecasters said.
In either case, it was moving close to shore and disaster officials warned of heavy rains and winds and possible landslides in the mountainous region.
Tens of thousands already have been left homeless by the storm, reports CBS News' Barnaby Lo, with the situation still very dire - shortages of food and drinking water, and other health and sanitation problems.
Bopha was forecast to leave the Philippine area tomorrow but is now expected to make landfall in the Northern Philippines on Sunday.
Storm signal warnings have been raised in several provinces, as the typhoon brings heavy rainfall and gusty winds, threatening to inflict more destruction upon the country.
Another calamity in the north would stretch recovery efforts thin. Most government resources, including army and police, are currently focused on the south, where Bopha hit Tuesday.
With many survivors there still in shock, soldiers, police and outside volunteers formed most of the teams searching for bodies or signs of life under tons of fallen trees and boulders swept down from steep hills surrounding the worst-hit town of New Bataan, municipal spokesman Marlon Esperanza said.
"We are having a hard time finding guides," he told The Associated Press. "Entire families were killed and the survivors … appear dazed. They can't move."
He said the rocks, mud, tree trunks and other rubble that litter the town have destroyed landmarks, making it doubly difficult to search places where houses once stood.
On Friday, bodies found jammed under fallen trees that could not be retrieved were marked with makeshift flags made of torn cloth so they could be easily spotted by properly equipped teams.
Authorities decided to bury unidentified bodies in a common grave after forensic officials process them for future identification by relatives, Esperanza said.
The town's damaged public market has been converted into a temporary funeral parlor. A few residents milled around two dozen white wooden coffins, some containing unidentified remains.
One resident, Jing Maniquiz, 37, said she rushed home from Manila for the wake of two of her sisters, but could not bring herself to visit the place where her home once stood in Andap village. Her parents, a brother and nephew are missing.
"I don't want to see it," she said tearfully. "I can't accept that in just an instant I lost my mother, my father, my brother."
She said that at the height of the typhoon, her mother was able to send her a text message saying trees were falling on their house and its roof had been blown away.
Maniquiz said her family sought refuge at a nearby health center, but that was destroyed and they and dozens of others were swept away by the raging waters. […]