Storm, floods in south Philippines kill over 120

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Officials say the death toll from storm-triggered flash floods in the southern Philippines has risen to more than 120, with more than 100 people missing.

Mayor Lawrence Cruz of Iligan city says 79 bodies were recovered Saturday after more than 12 hours of continuous rain from Tropical Storm Washi swelled a river and sent muddy floodwaters cascading down to his city from nearby mountains.

He says about 150 people were missing after the storm dumped heavy rains as it swept through the Philippines' Mindanao region.

Police and rescue officials in nearby Cagayan de Oro city say 40 bodies have been recovered in the city and that three people drowned in Zamboanga del Norte province west of the two cities.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Flash floods triggered by a tropical storm have killed nearly 60 people in the southern Philippines, with many more missing across vast regions, officials said Saturday.

Police Chief Inspector Lemuel Gunda, head of a rescue team in Cagayan de Oro city, told The Associated Press that at least 40 bodies were recovered there.

Mayor Lawrence Cruz of nearby Iligan said that at least 15 people were killed in his city alone and that many more were missing.

Cruz said the coast guard and other rescuers were scouring the waters off his coastal city for survivors or bodies that may have been swept to the sea by a swollen river.

He said more than 12 hours of continuous rain over Iligan, as well as water from nearby mountains, had raised floodwaters waist-high in some neighborhoods that do not usually experience flooding. Scores of residents escaped the flood by climbing onto the roofs of their homes, Cruz said.

Those missing included prominent radio broadcaster Enie Alsonado, who was swept away while trying to save his neighbors, 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.

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 shown to have been carried over a concrete fence.

The chief of the national disaster rescue agency, Benito Ramos, said that officials were still getting reports from the field and that the number of casualties would likely rise.

The floods were triggered by Tropical Storm Washi, which dumped heavy rain over the Mindanao region overnight.

"Massive flooding had been reported over the region, especially in Iligan city and Cagayan de Oro city," Ramos said, adding that tens of thousands of people sought shelter on high ground.

Strong winds toppled trees onto the rain-saturated ground in Polanco township in Zamboanga del Norte province, where three people drowned, including an 80-year-old woman who had been trapped in the first floor of her flooded home, said provincial disaster officer Dennis Tenorio.

Washi, the 19th storm to hit the Philippines this year, came ashore in eastern Mindanao and blanketed the region with thick rain clouds 250 miles (400 kilometers) in diameter.

It quickly cut across the region overnight and was over the Sulu Sea by midmorning Saturday, packing maximum winds of 47 miles (75 kilometers) per hour and gusts of up to 56 mph (90 kph). It is expected to blow out of the country late Sunday, forecaster Raymond Ordinario said.

Back-to-back typhoons in September left more than 100 people dead in the northern Philippines.

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