Home News Update: Death toll due to torrential rains, floods rises to 13 in...

Update: Death toll due to torrential rains, floods rises to 13 in southern Philippines

The flooding dampened Christmas celebrations on the mainly Catholic nation's most important holiday

At least 13 people have been reported dead due to torrential rains and floods caused by the shear line in various parts of the country, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported on Tuesday.

In its update, the agency said two deaths from Eastern Visayas have already been confirmed while 11 are undergoing validation — seven from Northern Mindanao, three from Bicol and one from the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Meanwhile, six injured and 23 missing persons were also reported.

Of the number of injured, one from the Zamboanga Peninsula was already confirmed while five from Northern Mindanao are undergoing validation.

The number of confirmed missing is 12 — all from Eastern Visayas while the remaining 11 are undergoing validation — eight from Bicol and three from Northern Mindanao.

The NDRRMC said 44,282 families or 166,357 individuals residing in Mimaropa, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) were affected.

Of this figure, 10,536 families or 45,337 persons are being served in 87 evacuation centers with the remainder being aided by relatives or friends.

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Around 534 houses were damaged — 369 of which were classified as “partially damaged” and 165 as “totally damaged”.

The flooding hit the south on Sunday, with the disaster dampening celebrations on the mainly Catholic nation’s most important holiday.

Rivers overflowed, swamping rural villages and highways as well as the cities of Ozamiz and Oroquieta, governor Henry Oaminal for the province of Misamis Occidental said on government radio.

“The heart of the city was flooded including the public market. Power was cut off and there was no (telephone) signal,” he said, referring to Oroquieta, the provincial capital with 72,000 residents.

“We’ve had floods before, but these are the worst rainfall and water flow levels we have ever had,” he added.

“The waters rose above the chest in some areas, but today the rains have ceased,” civil defense worker Robinson Lacre told AFP by phone from Gingoog city, which accounted for 33,000 of the 45,700 people evacuated from their homes.

The coastguard said it rescued members of more than two dozen families in Ozamiz and nearby Clarin town at the height of the flooding.

Photos released by the coastguard showed its orange-clad rescuers cradling toddlers plucked from homes at nighttime in waist-deep floodwaters.

People are seen walking on a flooded street in the village of Sulangon in Dapitan City in the southern Philippines. (Photo courtesy of the city government of Dapitan)

Seven deaths — mostly from drowning — were reported in Clarin and the nearby southern towns of Jimenez and Tudela.

The coastguard also said strong winds and big waves sank a fishing boat on Christmas Day off the coast of the central island of Leyte. Two crew members were killed, while six others were rescued.

Two others, including a baby girl, drowned in the eastern towns of Libmanan and Tinambac after they were hit by floods several days before Christmas, the civil defence office said.

The coastguard said it also rescued 23 fishermen aboard two boats that capsized when hit by big waves off the southern city of Zamboanga on Sunday.

Nineteen people remain missing, most of them subsistence fishermen from the country’s Pacific seaboard who went to sea despite rough conditions.

The weather turned bad as the disaster-prone nation of 110 million people prepared for a long Christmas holiday.

Millions of people travel to their hometowns for family reunions during this period.

The Philippines is ranked among the most vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change.

Scientists have warned that storms are becoming more powerful as the world gets warmer. – with reports from the Philippine News Agency and AFP

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