More than 700 dead in Philippine floods: Red Cross
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Last Updated: Monday, December 19, 2011, 19:53
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 bodies.

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.


First Published: Monday, December 19, 2011, 19:53

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