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Philippine typhoon toll 1,249; rebels urge punishment

MANILA - The death toll in the Philippines from one of the country's worst natural disaster in two decades has risen to 1,249 with about 1,100 missing, disaster officials said on Monday, as communist rebels said people responsible should be punished.
Typhoon Washi sent torrents of water, mud and logs cascading through riverside and coastal villages on Mindanao island in mid-December, destroying more than 10,000 houses and displacing more than 300,000 people, who are mostly in emergency shelters.
Benito Ramos, head of the national disaster agency, said fishermen from as far as the central island of Bohol were helping recover bodies that had been washed hundreds of miles away.
"As long as there are bodies out there in the sea we will continue with the search and retrieval operations, even if it goes beyond the New Year," Ramos said in a radio interview.
Authorities had expanded the search area to a radius of 300 km, he said.
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