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MANILA, Philippines – To avoid the spread of diseases, a top government official on Monday recommended mass graves for the dead in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.
Undersecretary Benito Ramos of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council told ABS-CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda that he proposed to local government officials the making of mass graves but stressed consultations must be made first with the families.
“We have to consider sensitivities,” Ramos said. “We have asked the Department of Social Welfare and Development to explain these to the families.”
As of Monday, Dec. 19, 2011, the NDRRMC has recorded a total of 533 dead from typhoon Sendong, which hit the northern Mindanao region late Friday and early Saturday. Ramos said there are an estimated 270 missing people.
But on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011, the Philippine Red Cross already said at least 652 have died and 900 more are missing. The two cities had run out of coffins. The military is deploying cadaver boxes on Monday to the area, according to Ramos.
The key areas that were battered by “Sendong” continue to suffer from blackout and poor communication lines. These include Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, and even Negros Oriental.
At least 50,000 people have been evacuated to safer grounds, according to government reports. Iligan now hosts 10 evacuation centers, while Cagayan de Oro has 13.
Ramos, who is in Cagayan de Oro, said he has likewise recommended to local officials that residents living near the river should already be discouraged from returning to their homes. “They should find a relocation site,” Ramos said. Because the rivers have been silted due to gold panning, residents in these areas will always be exposed to flooding, he added.
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.
People were sleeping when the floods came at dawn on Saturday, Dec 17. The waters receded quickly.
It dumped 142 millimeters of rainfall in 12 hours. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) considered this “super heavy rainfall.”
Sendong was on its way to Palawan over the weekend but the province was spared heavy rains. – Rappler.com