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Red Cross fears more typhoon deaths

The Red Cross estimated Sunday that up to 1,000 people may have died in the typhoon that unleashed walls of black mud on entire villages in the Philippines. The country's president declared a state of national calamity.

Typhoon Durian struck the Philippines with winds reaching 165 mph and torrential rains on Thursday, causing ash and boulders from Mayon volcano on Luzon island to swamp villages around its base - a scene Philippine Sen. Richard Gordon described Sunday as a "war zone."

Hopes of finding any survivors beneath the volcanic mud, debris and boulders had virtually vanished. Bodies were buried in mass graves to prevent them from decomposing in the heat.

Gordon, who heads the Philippine National Red Cross, estimated the death toll could reach 1,000. "There are many unidentified bodies. There could be a lot more hidden below," he said.

The Red Cross has recorded at least 406 deaths, with 398 others missing, based on figures provided by mayors of devastated towns in Albay province. The government placed the number of dead at 324, with 302 missing and 438 injured.

The state of national calamity declared by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will allow the government to rapidly release funds needed to bolster search and rescue efforts.

All but two dozen of the deaths occurred in Albay, with 165 in the flooded town of Guinobatan in the foothills of Mayon volcano, about 200 miles southeast of Manila.

More than 50 tons of relief goods, medicine, body bags and other aid have been flown to the province by air force C-130 cargo planes, officials said.

Australia also made an initial pledge of $780,000 in immediate humanitarian relief. Canada donated $876,000, while Japan said it would send $173,000.

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