Flash floods kill more than 400 in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Flash floods devastated a southern Philippines region unaccustomed to serious storms, killing more than 400 people while they slept, rousting hundreds of others to their rooftops and turning two coastal cities into muddy, debris-filled waterways that were strewn Saturday with overturned vehicles and toppled trees.

Most of the victims were asleep Friday night when raging floodwaters cascaded from the mountains after 12 hours of rain from a late-season tropical storm in the southern Mindanao region. The region is unaccustomed to the typhoons that are common elsewhere in the nation of islands.

Ayi Hernandez, a former congressman, said he and his family were resting in their home in Cagayan de Oro late Friday when they heard a loud "swooshing sound" and water quickly rose ankle-deep inside. He decided to evacuate to a neighbor's two-story house.

"It was a good thing, because in less than an hour the water rose to about 11 feet (3.3 meters)," filling his home up to the ceiling, he said.

At least 436 were dead, based on a body count in funeral parlors, Philippine Red Cross Secretary General Gwen Pang told The Associated Press. She said that 215 died in Cagayan de Oro — a city of more than 500,000 — and 144 in nearby Iligan, with more than 300,000 residents. The rest died in several other southern and central provinces, she said.

Many of the bodies were unclaimed after nearly 24 hours, suggesting that entire families had died, Pang said.

The number of missing was unclear Saturday night. Before the latest Red Cross figures, military spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said about 250 people were still unaccounted for in Iligan.

The swollen river sent floodwaters gushing through neighborhoods that do not usually experience flooding. A man floated in an inner tube in muddy water littered with plastic buckets, pieces of wood and other debris. Ten people in one home stood on a sloping roof, waiting for rescuers even as water still flooded the lower floors.

Local television footage showed muddy water rushing in the streets, sweeping away all sorts of debris. Thick layers of mud coated streets where the waters had subsided. One car was thrown over a concrete fence and others were crushed and piled in a flooded canal.

Benito Ramos, chief of the government's Civil Defense Office, attributed the high casualties in Mindanao "partly to the complacency of people because they are not in the usual path of storms" despite four days of warnings by officials that one was approaching.

Thousands of soldiers backed up by hundreds of local police, reservists, coast guard officers and civilian volunteers were mobilized for rescue efforts, but they were hampered by the flooded-out roads and lack of electricity.

Many roads were cut off and there was no electricity, hampering relief efforts.

The missing included prominent Filipino radio broadcaster Enie Alsonado, who was swept away while trying to save his neighbors, Iligan Mayor Lawrence Cruz said.

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro said that about 20,000 residents of the city had been affected and that evacuees were packed in temporary shelters.

Authorities recovered bodies from the mud after the water subsided. Parts of concrete walls and roofs, toppled vehicles and other debris littered the streets.

Rescuers in boats rushed offshore to save people swept out to sea. In Misamis Oriental province, 60 people were plucked from the ocean off El Salvador city, about six miles (10 kilometers) northwest of Cagayan de Oro, said disaster official Teddy Sabuga-a.

About 120 more were rescued off Opol township, closer to the city, he added.

Cruz said the Philippine coast guard and other rescuers were scouring the waters off Iligan for survivors or bodies that may have been swept away to sea.

Tropical Storm Washi dumped on Mindanao more than a month of average rains in just 12 hours.

It quickly cut across the region overnight and headed for Palawan province southwest of Manila on Saturday night.

Forecaster Leny Ruiz said that the records show that storms that follow Washi's track come only once in about 12 years.

Lucilo Bayron, vice mayor of Puerto Princesa in Palawan, said he already mobilized emergency crews but local officials have not ordered an evacuation yet because the weather was still fine.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement that the Obama administration offered "deepest condolences" for the devastation in the southern Philippines.

"The U.S. government stands ready to assist Philippine authorities as they respond to this tragedy," the statement said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected."

___

Associated Press writer Hrvoje Hranjski contributed to this report.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Osmeña wants electricity exempted from VAT
    Osmeña wants electricity exempted from VAT

    Sen. Sergio Osmeña III wants electricity to be exempted from value added tax under a proposed measure that will amend the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 and the Reformed VAT Law. He said the move aims to ease the burden of the public in paying high electricity rates in the country. “VAT on electricity is another burden on the already over-taxed shoulders of our people, especially those whose incomes are barely enough to cover their basic needs. Osmeña, chairman of the Senate …

  • No lotto draws starting tomorrow until Easter Sunday
    No lotto draws starting tomorrow until Easter Sunday

    No lotto tickets will be sold and no lotto draws made starting tomorrow, Maundy Thursday, up to Easter Sunday in observance of Holy Week. In a statement, Jose Ferdinand Rojas II, acting Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairman and general manager, said the selling of lotto tickets and lotto draws will resume on April 6,  Monday. “We thank all Lotto players for your trust and confidence in the PCSO games, and we count on your continued support of our efforts to raise funds for …

  • Quake rocks C. Visayas
    Quake rocks C. Visayas

    A magnitude-3.2 earthquake rocked parts of Central Visayas yesterday. State seismologists said the quake was an aftershock of a powerful tremor that hit the region in 2013. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the quake occurred at 7:54 a.m. Its epicenter was located 10 kilometers  southeast of Buenavista, Bohol. Phivolcs director Renato Solidum said the quake was an aftershock of the magnitude-7.2 earthquake that hit Bohol on Oct. 15, 2013. …

  • Super howler nears Phl
    Super howler nears Phl

    A typhoon that has devastated islands in the Pacific is forecast to become a category 5 monster howler as it barrels toward the Philippines this week. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Maysak will be named Chedeng when it enters the Philippine area of responsibility tonight or tomorrow morning. In an interview, PAGASA weather forecaster Gener Quitlong said the forecast track of Maysak may still change depending on the movement of …

  • Philips Gold finally shines

    Philips Gold made 11 service aces on its way to beating Mane ‘N Tail, 25-19, 27-25, 25-16, for its first victory in the Philippine Super Liga (PSL) All-Filipino Coinference Monday night at The Arena in San Juan.Former College of St. Benilde standout Rossan Fajardo had six aces as part of her 10-point output as the Lady Slammers finally barged into the win column after losing their first two matches.Ex-National University star Myla Pablo led Philips Gold with 14 points highlighted by 12 kills, …

  • Turkish Airlines starts direct Manila-Istanbul flights 3 times a week

    Turkish Airlines, Turkey’s flag carrier, launched on March 30 its thrice weekly direct, non-stop flights between Istanbul and Manila at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 and plans to operate a daily service between the two cities, eventually, announced Chief Marketing Officer Ahmet Olmustur. Last November 2014, the Philippines and Turkey signed an expanded air services agreement granting Turkish carriers three frequencies per week to Manila and Clark. In accordance with …

  • Azkals bow to Bahrain

    The Philippine Azkals fell short in their bid to salvage a draw and fell 2-1 to Bahrain Monday night in an international friendly match at the Bahrain National Stadium in Manama. Faouzi Mubarak struck the opening goal for the home side in the 29th minute before Abdulla Yaser doubled the lead two minutes later with a booming shot from 25 yards out. Fil-German midfielder Manny Ott gave the Azkals a ray of hope when he scored from just outside the box in the 61st. National team Coach Thomas …

  • Alcalas dominate rivals

    In a brilliant show of power and speed, Mark Alcala downed fierce rival and Philippine team member Ross Leonard Pedroza, 21-16, 23-21, to win the men’s singles open title. Alcala lost her No. 1 ranking after focusing on her studies at the University of the Philippines, but she’s willing to sacrifice once again in order to represent the country in future international tournaments. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options