[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
Philippines storm triggers deadly floods
At least 436 people killed as flash floods hit Iligan and the island of Mindanao following tropical storm Washi.
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2011 04:26

At least 436 people have been killed in widespread flooding in the southern Philippines, as tropical storm Washi raked across the region, the Philippine Red Cross said.

The Red Cross, told the Associated Press on Saturday that the death toll had reached 436 across three cities. He said thousands of people had sought shelter in evacuation centres in the area.

"We're counting about 20,000 families in the evacuation centres in several provinces," Gordon said.

"The Red Cross is going to be sending 10,000 food items as well as 5,000 non-food items for 10,000 families so that we can immediately give alleviation of the suffering."

Regional military spokesmen told reporters 97 bodies were recovered in Cagayan de Oro, a major port on Mindanao island, and 75 were found in Iligan, a nearby southern port, accounting for most of the deaths.

They said 375 people were still missing from the two cities alone.

Colonel Leopoldo Galon told reporters that army troops using trucks, boats, and helicopters had rescued at least 2,000 residents of Cagayan de Oro.

Separately, Lieutenant-Colonel Randolph Cabangbang said 15 people who had been swept to sea off Iligan had been rescued.

'Unprecedented' flooding

Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas, reporting from the Philippines, said that thousands of soldiers are now involved in the rescue operations. "[The operations] are expected to go on through the night, as they are still pulling out more bodies, so they are expecting the death toll to rise."

Gwendolyn Pang, secretary-general of the Red Cross in the Philippines told Al Jazeera from Manila that though the flood water had receded in many areas, officials were still receiving reports of deaths and landslides.

"Storms rarely hit this area and people probably became complacent even though they knew it was heading their way"

- Benito Ramos, government director

She went on to say that the people in some of the affected ares were having trouble coping with the floods, "because it is completely unprecedented".

In Iligan, Lawrence Cruz, the city's mayor, described rampaging floodwaters from swollen rivers that swamped at least 10 villages on the city's outskirts.

"It happened so fast, at a time when people were fast asleep," Cruz told a local television station.

The station showed dramatic pictures of a family escaping out of the window of their home as floodwaters rose, and rescue workers in orange vests escorting survivors to safety above chest-deep floodwaters.

Ramos said 25 millimetres of rain had fallen over the past 24 hours, swelling rivers and swiftly inundating low-lying areas.

"Storms rarely hit this area and people probably became complacent even though they knew it was heading their way," Benito Ramos, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council director, said on Saturday.

Eye of the storm

Weather forecasters said the eye of the storm passed close to Dipolog city near Iligan early on Saturday and Washi was now heading out to the Sulu Sea.

The large western island of Palawan to the northwest lies directly in the path of the storm, with winds of 65km an hour.

Mindanao is a largely agricultural area that is considered the country's breadbasket.

The Philippines is struck by about 20 major storms annually, with most hitting Luzon, the largest and most populous island in the Southeast Asian archipelago.

Two typhoons, Nesat and Nalgae, hit the country within days of each other from late September, leaving more than 100 people dead, while tropical storm Banyan killed another eight people in October.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
Treatment for autism in the region has progressed, but lack of awareness and support services remains a challenge.
The past isn't far away for a people exiled from Crimea by Russia and the decades it took to get home.
New report highlights plight of domestic helpers in the United Kingdom, with critics comparing it to kefala system.
Kurds say declaring Saddam Hussein's 1988 campaign to be a genocide could help with lawsuits and healing process.
join our mailing list