Saturday, December 17, 2011

Philippines: Disaster: 180 dead from storm, nearly 400 missing, says Army

Philippines Daily Inquirer (December 17, 2k11)

SENDONG’S TRAIL. An unidentified body lies by the roadside in Barangay (village) Tambo, Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro City. At least 20 others were recovered by rescuers as of 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011 in the village alone. JB R. Deveza/INQUIRER Mindanao

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines—The death toll from tropical storm Sendong (international codename: Washi) surged to 180 on Saturday with nearly 400 people missing in flash floods that ravaged Mindanao, officials said.
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.
In Cagayan de Oro City alone, where the floodwaters rose to more than one meter deep in the wee hours of Saturday, 95 people were confirmed dead, according to Colonel Leopoldo Galon, spokesperson of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command based in Davao City. Cagayan de Oro was in the center of the storm’s path.
Twenty of the victims, many of them children, were recovered in Barangay Tambo alone, one of the villages dotting the banks of the swollen Cagayan de Oro River.
The Inquirer was there when some of the bodies were being retrieved Saturday.
In all, 23 barangays were flooded.
Emil Raña, Cagayan de Oro government operations officer, said 22 villages were flooded by the heavy volume of rainwater dumped by Sendong.  The flooding was worsened by the high tide, he said.
Raña said 50 other people were missing but Galon said that, based on their latest data, 135 others were missing in Cagayan de Oro alone.
Armin Cuenca, head of the Oro Alert, said people were warned about the risk of flashfloods especially near rivers but many refused to leave their homes.
Bryan Cabillo of Tambo said his wife and three children were carried by the rushing waters that swept their home late Friday. He said he tried to save them but all was in vain as he too had to struggle with the strong currents.
Galon said the military was helping in the search-and-rescue efforts and had flown choppers to locate missing or trapped victims.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said as of 4 a.m. Saturday, Sendong was 20 kilometers west-northwest of Cagayan de Oro City, with maximum winds of 65 kilometers per hour.
By noon Saturday the rains had stopped in many places in Mindanao  although drizzles were still being reported in the northern and eastern parts of the island.
As of 8 a.m. Saturday, the NDRRMC said a total of 5,040 passengers, 82 trucks, six cars, 143 buses, six motorized bancas, and 87 vessels were stranded in eastern, western and central Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, Western Mindanao and Caraga.

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