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Southern Philippines bracing for floods

Thousands flee villages in latest round of evacuations as the death toll from week of bad weather rises.

Last updated: 17 Jan 2014 10:58
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300,000 people are displaced due to week of bad weather officials report [Reuters]

Thousands of people are fleeing rising floodwaters in the southern Philippines as the death toll from floods and landslides rises to 34.

In the latest round of evacuations, 8,000 people have fled villages along the flooded banks of the Agusan river on Mindanao island in the past 24 hours, John Uayan, operations official of the civil defence office in the region told the AFP news agency on Friday.

"The rains come to this region around this time, but this year has been terrible."

Floods and landslides unleashed by heavy rains brought the number of people temporarily sheltering in schools and government buildings in the Agusan region to nearly 59,000, he added, with some having been there since heavy rains began on January 10. 

Parts of Butuan, the regional capital, and more than 200 villages and districts lining the banks of the Agusan are flooded, he added.

Nineteen people were killed earlier in the week along Mindanao's east coast, including areas still recovering from Typhoon Bopha that left 1,900 people dead or missing in December 2012, the civil defence office in Manila said Friday.

Evacuation centres

About 155,000 other people were staying in evacuation centres in these areas, it added.

Caused by lingering low-pressure more than 300,000 people have been displaced, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported.

State weather forecaster Joey Figuracion said a weather system offshore that had earlier threatened to become a full-pledged tropical storm had caused the heavier than usual rains over Mindanao.

"There's a bigger chance that this one will turn into a tropical storm," Figuracion said.

Surigao city and the Agusan region are expected to be hit by more heavy rains from late Friday with another low-pressure area drifting south towards it from the northeast.

The Philippines has been struggling to recover as the country was devastated by typhoon Haiyan, one of the worst natural disasters to hit the country, left nearly 8,000 people dead or missing late last year.

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