[UPDATED as of 2:32 p.m.] MANILA, Philippines – The death toll from the floods in Visayas and Mindanao continued to increase a day after Tropical Storm Sendong (international code name Washi) pummeled the country.
On Sunday, December 18, Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine National Red Cross, said in a statement that Sendong has left 521 dead.
By noon, the number of casualties increased to 569, according to Richard Gordon, the Red Cross chairman, who talked to ANC.
Gordon added that 370 missing remained missing.
In its 5 a.m. advisory, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council figures were lower. The official count was at 327.
In its 12 n.n. advisory, the Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines reported that 336 are dead and 355 are missing.
The following areas now play host to evacuees: City Central School – 1238 families; Capitol Grd and Overpass Consolacion – 100 families each; Bulua covered court – 1,156 families; West City – 1,500 families; Macasandig – 1,800 families
Heavy rain from Sendong led to flash floods, swollen rivers and landslides with the port cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan particularly hard hit. In northern Mindanao, Cagayan de Oro is considered the commercial center and Iligan the destination for heavy industries investors. Both had attracted migrants from nearby areas.
Pang of Red Cross had reported that Cagayan de Oro and Iligan accounted for at least 434 of the deaths.
The military said Sendong claimed 212 lives in Iligan City and 447 remained missing.
“The affected area is so wide and huge and I believe they have not really gone to all areas to do a search. Also… many of the houses were washed out so that means the houses and the bodies were displaced,” said Pang.
The Red Cross is reporting the number of Sendong casualties based on actual dead bodies sent to funeral parlors.
Gordon said Mindanao is not usually a typhoon prone area and residents were caught unprepared, mostly shocked by the flashfloods that swept away their belongings and source of livelihood such as crops and live stocks.
While floodwater has subsided, many families still remained at the evacuation centers while they try to fix and clean their damaged homes from thick mud.
People were sleeping when the floods came at dawn on Saturday, Dec 17. The waters receded quickly.
View related story on swamped funeral parlors and unheeded warnings.
It dumped 142 millimeters of rainfall in 12 hours. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) considered this “super heavy rainfall.”
Almost 35,000 people remained huddled in evacuation centers after the storm, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.
Sendong is now on its way out after crossing over Palawan, which is next to the West Philippine Sea.