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Tropical Storm hit Northern Mindanao-Flood-hit Mindanao residents prepare to bury dead

Filed in Southeast Asia News by on December 19, 2011 0 Comments • views: 3437

COUNTING THE DEAD. About 40 persons were killed and 240 reported missing in Iligan City alone after a flashflood hit 11 of its villages at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday following rains spawned by Storm “Sendong”. The military, police, and medical teams have been conducting rescue and retrieval operations since the weekend when Sendong floods inundated parts of Mindanao. Richel V. Umel/INQUIRER Mindanao

 

A tropical storm which swept along the northern coast of Mindanao island in the Philippines has caused widespread flooding, killing an estimated 650 people.

Tropical Storm Washi hit northern Mindanao, which is unaccustomed to cyclones, flooding coastal cities on Friday night while people were asleep. The major ports of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan were among the areas worst affected. Although the Philippines is hit by typhoons or tropical storms every year, Mindanao in the south is usually spared the worst of the damage.

According to the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), 652 people were killed in eight provinces in the southern Mindanao region, and more than 800 are missing. “Our office was swamped with hundreds of requests to help find their missing parents, children and relatives,” Gwendolyn Pang, secretary-general of the PNRC, said. “We’re helping coordinate the search with local government, army, police and even other aid agencies.”

Floods washed away entire houses with families inside in dozens of coastal villages in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan and tens of thousands of people have fled to higher ground. Mindanao’s important agricultural sector has already been badly affected, as it is thought millions of tonnes of crops have been damaged. Northern Mindanao produces rice, the Philippines’ staple food, and is also home to pineapple and banana plantations.

The Philippines are struck by about 20 major storms every year but most of them take a more northerly track, hitting Luzon island. Typhoons Nesat and Nalgae battered the country within days of each other in September, leaving more than 100 people dead.

 

 

ILIGAN — The Philippines prepared for mass burials of flash-flood victims Monday to minimize the health risk from rotting cadavers after a disaster that has left many hundreds dead or missing.

COUNTING THE DEAD. About 40 persons were killed and 240 reported missing in Iligan City alone after a flashflood hit 11 of its villages at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday following rains spawned by Storm “Sendong”. The military, police, and medical teams have been conducting rescue and retrieval operations since the weekend when Sendong floods inundated parts of Mindanao. Richel V. Umel/INQUIRER Mindanao

Hard-pressed authorities in the port cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, on the desperately poor and conflict-torn southern island of Mindanao, are struggling to cope with the enormous devastation left by tropical storm Washi.

The death toll stands at 652 dead and 911 people are listed as missing, according to Philippine National Red Cross chief Gwendolyn Pang, after “Sendong” (international codename: Washi) triggered flash floods and landslides that swept away entire coastal villages.

Bodies that were washed out to sea have begun rising to the surface, and mortuaries are overwhelmed as emergency teams struggle to find survivors and tend to some 47,000 people huddled in evacuation centres.

Up to 50 of about 300 bodies recovered in Iligan since “Sendong” struck in the early hours of Saturday will be communally interred, possibly during the day, so that they do not pose a health risk, city mayor Lawrence Cruz said.

“Today we will dig a mass grave and bury the unclaimed bodies as well as those in an advanced state of decomposition,” he said on national television.

He said funeral homes already packed with unclaimed corpses were now turning away the newly recovered dead.

Iligan city health officer Levy Villarin told Agence France-Presse the mass burial could happen during the day after the authorities complete the formal process of documenting the features of each body for possible future identification.

“That is possible, but we have to follow the proper procedure,” Villarin said.

The Philippine health department has so far certified 533 deaths from the disaster, said National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council executive director Benito Ramos.

At least 239 others are missing, the council said in its latest update.

Ramos said the Red Cross list of missing was possibly overstated.

 

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