Death toll in Southern Philippines flash floods reaches 450
18 December, 2011
The death toll on the flash floods caused by Tropical Storm Washi has reached 450 with hundreds more missing as fast-rising floodwater hit low lying villages in Mindanao, Southern Philippines.
Floodwater cascading from the mountains after a 12-hour heavy downpour hit the affected villages Friday night as residents were asleep.
Flooding was widespread in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan as rivers and streams there have overflowed due to continuous rain last Thursday and Friday.
More than 2,000 people have been rescued so far while some 100,000 residents have been displaced, according to military authorities.
Benito Ramos, chairman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said most of the dead bodies were found in Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro.
"It's overwhelming. We didn't expect these many dead," Ramos said.
Mindanao is seldom hit by typhoons and floods unlike the other parts of the archipelago which are situated along the so called typhoon path. It is uncommon for the people of Mindanao to experience such a big magnitude of rainfall and resulting floodwater that hit most part of islands last Friday.
Rescue and relief operations are ongoing with the assistance of the Philippine National Red Cross headed by former Senator Richard Gordon and Dinky Soliman of the Social Welfare department.
Defense authorities and the military have deployed some 20,000 troops in the affected areas of Mindanao to assist in the evacuation of residents.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines through its spokesman Col.Leopoldo Galon said they have already dispatched three Huey helicopters, military trucks, rubber boats, speed boats, and motor boats to be used in the on-going search and rescue (SAR) operations.
The death toll is expected to rise as rescue operations by different government agencies continue as flood water in low-lying areas are expected to recede after the storm make its exit from the Philippine area.