Philippine authorities have partnered with fishermen and navy sailors to help in the search for missing victims of flash flooding caused by Tropical Storm Sendong which submerged villages on riverbanks in many parts of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan in Norhtern Mindanao.
The latest bodies recovered include children
and were reported to be in advanced stage of decomposition and were almost unrecognizable. DNA test are being conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation to determine the identity of victims.
"We've stopped counting the missing. There are no accurate figures," Ramos said
. "Those recovered, we don't know who they are. We have a system in place so that families can claim them later, based on fingerprints and dental records."
But monitoring agencies have reported that more than 1,000 people are still missing two weeks after the storm devastation as police and military authorities continue their search onshore and in the rubles of the victim's homes in the villages near the riverbanks.
The United Nations has made an appeal to raise $28 million to deal with the situation in the affected areas in Northern Mindanao.
"I was shocked by scale of destruction I saw," David Carden, the head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Philippines told CNN on Thursday
after visiting the region. He said it looked as if an "inland tsunami had struck the area."
More that half million people have been affected by the storm and more than 3000 have been brought to evacuation centers and are awaiting resettlement in facilities being prepared by the national government.
Ariel Balofinos, Mindanao manager for Save the Children aid agency said children were the ones most affected by the tragic incident, some of them have witnessed members of their families dying during the devastation.
"Children in particular are susceptible to health threats because immune systems are weak," he said, adding that many youngsters were also traumatized.
"Many children have witnessed friends and family dying. We've come across children who have been orphaned, but the good thing is they have relatives, which is part of the Filipino coping mechanism," he said.
Philippine President Noynoy Aquino, who has declared a state of calamity in the country, blamed illegal logging as the prime cause of the flooding and has ordered an immediate investigation.