Manila: The Catholic Church agreed to a mass burial of 150 people as relatives and local government officials failed to retrieve a growing pile of dead bodies that crowded three churches in Palo, Leyte, one of several places that were worst wrecked by Typhoon Haiyan in central Philippines last Friday.

Local government and religious leaders in Palo, Leyte have agreed to resort to a mass burial because dead bodies were bloated since they were piled up since last Saturday at the doors and grounds of Metropolitan Cathedral in Palo, Leyte, a source from Manila-based Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) told Gulf News.

The number could have been bigger if several relatives did not get their dead and buried them in private cemeteries, said the source, but did not give more details.

Noting that the mass burial received the nod of the CBCP, Monsignor Joselito Asis, CBCP secretary general said in a TV interview, “This is allowed only during emergency situation.”

Priests in Palo, Leyte blessed and prayed for the dead during the mass burial, said Monsirnor Asis, adding that Catholic churches in Manila also “offered masses for the souls” of those who were included in the provincial mass burial.

Although frowned upon by the Catholic Church, mass burial was done so as not to endanger the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan with a medical outbreak, said Monsignor Asis.

Local government officials have been saddled by the problem of what to do with dead bodies even if these were seen on roads and trees. The smell of rotting flesh evaporated from the heavy debris left by Typhoon Haiyan.

The arrival of 1,00 cadaver bags from the health department in Manila could help solve the problem of unattended dead bodies in Tacloban, said Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez.

Earlier, local folks managed to retrieve 70 dead bodies that were sent to the police where relatives could identify them, said Romualdez. If relative fail to identify the bodies, they would be included in a mass burial, he added.

Local government leaders in all 41 affected provinces have been following the same procedure of handling dead bodies during calamities.

Funeral homes in all affected areas have the same complaints: lack of equipment, electricity, water and medicine to embalm all the dead bodies that have been piling in their typhoon damaged offices.

TV reports showed images of placards on highways, that said, “Please get the dead bodies on this pavement.”

Retrievers placed the dead bodies in places that could be easily seen by government officials, residents said.

Some bodies have not yet been seen, Joey Talisay complained on TV, saying, “The bodies of my wife and three children are still at a nearby elementary school.”

Meanwhile, National Epidemiology Centre Director Dr. Eric Tayag said in Manila that rotten bodies could not spread diseases.

But he advised retrievers and relatives to use gloves and boots when they handle dead bodies.

Critics complained of government services not reaching heavily devastated provinces - based on reports of pervading smell of rotten bodies in all affected areas. It has become a telltale sign that dead bodies have not been attended to since Friday.

Unofficial reports said that Typhoon Haiyan killed 10,000 to 13,000 residents in central Philippines. President Beningo Aquino insisted that fatalities reached a low 2,000.