Manila: The Philippine Red Cross on Monday raised
the death toll from floods on Mindanao island to more than 700
as ravaged cities prepared for mass burials of unclaimed
In separate updates, the Red Cross set the death toll from
Saturday`s flash floods spawned by tropical storm Washi at 713
while the government`s disaster council put the figure at 662
with 82 still missing.
The Red Cross still had more than 500 people classified as
missing late today, down sharply from more than 900 earlier in
the day, but government officials expect this number to fall
after further checks.
Most of the dead were from the port cities of Iligan and
Cagayan de Oro, which were built around river systems that
overflowed when a month`s worth of rain fell in a 24-hour
period at the weekend.
The disaster area, about 800 kilometres from Manila, is
normally bypassed by typhoons that strike other parts of the
Philippine archipelago every year.
Residents in coastal districts ignored warnings and many
victims were caught sleeping when fast-rising, muddy water
washed away their flimsy homes.
Benito Ramos, the disaster council chief, said most of the
victims were "informal settlers" -- a term typically used for
squatters who are often unregistered, making it difficult to
make precise counts of slum populations.