THE PHILIPPINES (CNN) -- The grim toll from a typhoon that devastated southern Philippines earlier this month continues to climb, with 1,020 reported dead as of Sunday morning, authorities said.
Officials fear the toll from the December 4 storm will rise further. Because while rescue crews continue searching, the chances of finding people alive dim with each passing day.
With 844 still missing and 1.2 million families displaced, Bopha is the strongest and deadliest storm to hit the Philippines this year, according to the country's emergency management agency.
Among the missing are hundreds of fishermen who went to sea before the storm hit. Officials hope that they could yet be found sheltering on small islands out at sea.
If the death toll continues to rise, Bopha could eventually prove deadlier than Tropical Storm Washi, which killed 1,268 people a year ago.
But its toll would still remain far below that of Tropical Storm Thelma, the country's most lethal storm on record that left more than 5,000 people dead in 1991.
The worst of the death and destruction from Bopha took place on the southern island of Mindanao, where the storm hit first and hardest with gusts as strong as 220 kph (138 mph).
The storm, known locally as Pablo, was the most powerful typhoon to hit Mindanao in decades. It set off flash floods and landslides that engulfed people sheltering in their rickety houses in remote, unprepared regions of the island.