9 Dec 2012

National calamity declared in Philippines

6:04 am on 9 December 2012

A state of national calamity was declared in the Philippines on Saturday - four days after Typhoon Bopha struck the southern and central regions of the country.

Under such a declaration, a price freeze on commodities is imposed and interest free loans are granted for affected cities and provinces.

The national disaster agency put the death toll at 459 and a further 532 are missing, mostly in the Mindanao provinces of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.

The ABC reports at least 180,000 were left homeless.

Bopha was the strongest storm to hit the Philippines this year. It has now turned back towards the country and is forecast to make landfall on the northern tip of the main island of Luzon on Sunday.

Winds of up to 160km per hour and intense rainfall are forecast.

"People there need to take precautions," said Civil defence director Benito Ramos.

President Benigno Aquino previously allocated $US200 million. Damage to infrastructure and agriculture is estimated at almost $US100 million.