Philippines President Benigno Aquino III declared a state of national calamity Saturday in the wake of Typhoon Bopha, which has left 459 dead and 533 others missing and affected 5.4 million people.

Presidential spokespersons said the measure will help speed up the distribution of aid funds and loans and enable the government to control food prices in the hardest-hit areas.

The southern island group of Mindanao and the central island group of Visayas were the most affected by Bopha, which entered the Philippines on Tuesday with maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers (109 miles) per hour and torrential rains and exited the country Thursday after causing damage in 26 provinces.

Nearly all of the deaths occurred in the provinces of Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental and Surigao del Sur, all located in Mindanao.

According to the latest figures from the disaster prevention and response office, 212,323 people remain in shelters and 35 municipalities are still without electricity.

The storm destroyed 21,465 homes and damaged 16,711 others.

Authorities say their priority is to attend to people who have been left homeless, locate the missing and re-establish communications and basic services.

Bopha has been the deadliest typhoon this year in the Philippines, coming at the end of a season that generally starts in June and concludes in November.

Typhoon Washi struck the Philippines the week before Christmas last year, killing some 1,200 people.

Deforestation, illegal mining, the lack of infrastructure and the proliferation of shantytowns exacerbate the devastating effects of typhoons and flooding during the monsoon season in the Philippines.

EFE