Philippines revises up missing from floods to 1,000

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 23, 2011 3:08 AM
Philippines revises up missing from floods to 1,000

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines disaster agency said Friday more than 1,000 people were missing from a storm and flash floods last week, sharply raising the number of victims unaccounted for as the true extent of the disaster became known.

Typhoon Washi and the flash floods it caused on the southern island of Mindanao are known to have killed 1,080 people, the national disaster agency said.

The agency said Thursday dozens of people were missing but Friday it revised that figure to more than 1,000, saying more complete data had come in and people were reporting the disappearance of relatives.

Most of the casualties were in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, where hundreds of thousands of people were displaced. Many of them are sheltering in schools, churches, gymnasiums and an army base.

Benito Ramos, head of the national disaster agency, said authorities had expanded the search in light of the new tally of missing and because some bodies had been found on shores nearly 100 km (60 miles) from the disaster area.

"We've deployed helicopters to help navy ships scour the seas further away," Ramos told reporters.

The number of missing was put at 1,079, he said.

The disaster had caused damage of 1 billion pesos ($22.92 million) to highways, bridges, schools and other infrastructure, the agency said.

The agriculture department estimated 310.2 million pesos worth of crops, including 703 metric tons of unmilled rice and 7,751 metric tons of corn were destroyed.

Ramos said the situation for survivors was slowly getting back to normal though the displaced needed sustained help.

Two navy ships and aircraft from the main island of Luzon had been deployed to help in the search and relief operations, he said.

"We're not taking any Christmas break," Ramos said.

Some families have moved home and are trying to pick up their pieces of their lives.

"We only need something on top of our heads this Christmas," villager Teresita Bragas told a television station, as she and some neighbors tried to rebuild amid mounds of logs and debris in their coastal village.

Aid agencies have appealed for $28.6 million aid to ease overcrowding at shelter areas.

($1 = 43.6350 pesos)

(Reporting By Manuel Mogato; Editing by Robert Birsel)