Saturday, 17 December 2011

Philippines storm kills hundreds in Mindanao flash floods

Flash floods triggered by a tropical storm in the southern Philippines have killed more than 430 people and left many more missing, officials say.

Many of the victims were asleep when it struck Mindanao island, hitting the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.

Tens of thousands of people have fled to higher ground, the authorities say.

Benito Ramos, head of the national disaster rescue agency, said reports were still coming in and the casualty figures could rise.

Mr Ramos said the floodwaters had risen alarmingly fast overnight as people slept.

"Massive flooding had been reported over the region, especially in Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City," he said

Many people in Cagayan de Oro were trapped in their homes as floodwaters rose rapidly
Rivers burst their banks after 25mm of rain fell in 24 hours.

The Philippine National Red Cross Secretary General Gwen Pang said at least 430 people had been killed.

She said 215 people had been killed in Cagayan de Oro and 144 in Iligan.

Large areas were left without power and some domestic flights were cancelled as winds of up to 90 km/h (55mph) swept across the island.

A landslide killed at least five people in the east of the island, the national disaster agency said.

A military spokesman, Colonel Leopoldo Galon, said an entire army division - some 10,000 soldiers - was involved in the rescue efforts around Cagayan de Oro.

Forecasters said the eye of Tropical Storm Washi had passed close to Dipolog City, west of Iligan City, early on Saturday and it was now heading out into the Sulu Sea.

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