NEW BATAAN, Philippines (AP) - Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has declared a "state of national calamity" after visiting New Bataan, ground zero of a deadly typhoon that left nearly 600 dead and as many missing.
The declaration focuses government efforts on rescue and rehabilitation, controls prices of basic commodities and allows the quick release of emergency funds.
Meanwhile, an official says search and rescue operations following a typhoon that killed nearly 600 people in the southern Philippines have been hampered in part because many residents are too stunned to assist recovery efforts.
A local government spokesman says soldiers, police and volunteers from outside the farming community of New Bataan have formed the bulk of the rescue teams searching for signs of life New Bataan.
New Bataan municipal spokesman Marlon Esperanza says, rocks, mud and tree trunks and other rubble have destroyed landmarks, making it doubly difficult to search places where houses once stood.
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