Iligan: Tens of thousands of
Philippine flood survivors queued for their Christmas meal in
packed evacuation centres on Sunday, holiday spirits doused by
thoughts of more than 2,000 dead or missing kin.
Eight days after devastating flash floods swept to sea
entire communities from the southern island of Mindanao,
officials said 328,000 people were relying on emergency aid,
including more than 69,000 sheltering at evacuation centres.
Village chief Aurelio Magaro joined 422 other survivors
from the rural hamlet of Digkilaan lining up for food in the
courtyard of a school that was flattened by the overflowing
"We have a sad Christmas this year, but we remain hopeful
that we will recover," said Magaro, who said he lost 15
relatives to rampaging floodwaters unleashed by tropical storm
Washi on December 17.
"How can we celebrate Christmas? We have no money and our
houses are gone," said an elderly woman in the queue, who like
Magaro is temporarily sleeping at a nearby chapel.
A child sat on the drying mud nearby wearing a
red-and-white Santa Claus-style bonnet, the only local
reminder of Christmas in this mainly Roman Catholic country.
The official toll stood at 1,183 dead, said Lieutenant
Colonel Leopoldo Galon, a regional military spokesman.
Rescuers say more than a thousand others were listed as
missing by relatives, though officials caution many of them
could be among the many unclaimed and badly decomposed
cadavers at overflowing local mortuaries.
Iligan health officer Levy Villarin said city
facilities including schools and gymnasiums were sheltering
57,000 people, including at least 5,000 who had lost their
homes and others whose dwellings were choked with mud.