NEW BATAAN, Philippines–Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Friday visited communities devastated by a deadly typhoon, and vowed to work to find ways to prevent storm disasters.
“We want to find out why this tragedy happened and how to keep these tragedies from happening again,” he told dazed survivors after arriving by helicopter in New Bataan which bore the brunt of Tuesday’s deadly cyclone.
Nearly 500 people were killed in the storm which tore across southern Mindanao Island and devastated its banana-growing and mining industries.
“I am here to listen and hear explanations. This is not a time for accusations. It is a time for work,” Aquino said before helping hand out food packs to about 2,000 people sheltering at a government gymnasium, one of the few structures left standing on the town of 48,000 people.
Typhoon Pablo (international name: Bopha0 slammed into the southern Philippines on Tuesday, leaving hundreds dead or missing and making 306,000 people homeless as it flattened whole towns.
About 20 cyclones a year pummel the Philippines, which is also regularly hit with floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, but the scale of the disaster in Mindanao has shocked the nation.
The government had warned communities days in advance, ordering evacuations ahead of the Typhoon Bopha’s arrival.
In December last year Mindanao was also pummelled by tropical storm Washi which killed more than 1,200 and left hundreds of thousands homeless.