UN aid call as Philippines typhoon toll tops 600

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The United Nations is set to launch a global appeal Monday for aid for millions of Philippine typhoon victims as the death toll surged past 600, with nearly 800 people still missing.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Luiza Carvalho will outline plans for an immediate aid package as well as long-term support for the southern region of Mindanao, hardest hit by Typhoon Bopha, UN spokeswoman Imogen Wall said.

"Five million people were affected and they need express assistance," Wall, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told AFP.

"Their priority needs are food, water and shelter but there's also a big emphasis on helping people's livelihood," she said.

"So many farmers have lost their crops and it's such a poor area. People need to earn money immediately and agriculture has to be rehabilitated," she added.

She declined to give an estimate of the needs of the hard-hit region, the centre of both the country's banana as well as gold mining industries.

But she said a number of villages were still completely cut off and not receiving any aid, a week after the typhoon struck.

The region would need sustained assistance for at least six months, she added.

Carvalho is due to outline the aid plans at 0730 GMT in Davao city, near the area worst hit by the typhoon.

The civil defence office in Manila said 647 corpses had been recovered after landslides and floods obliterated entire communities in the typhoon's path.

A total of 780 people are still missing, including about 150 fishermen from General Santos, the country's tuna capital, who had put to sea ahead of Bopha's landfall.

Civil defence chief Benito Ramos has said many of those missing could be among the hundreds of unidentified bodies, many of them bloated beyond recognition.