Number of people missing after Philippines flood rises to over 1,000


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The Independent Online

More than 1,000 people are missing in towns and villages devastated by a typhoon and flash floods last week, the national disaster agency said.

Typhoon Washi and the deluge it caused on the southern island of Mindanao were already known to have killed about 1,000 people.

Yesterday the agency sharply raised the number of victims unaccounted for – from 51 to 1,079 –as the true extent of the disaster became known.

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

Benito Ramos, head of the disaster agency, said officials had expanded the search in light of the new tally and because some bodies had been found on beaches nearly 100km from the disaster zone. "We have deployed helicopters to help navy ships scour the seas further away," he added.

The disaster caused an estimated one billion pesos (£15m) of damage to roads, bridges, schools and other infrastructure. The agriculture ministry said large amounts of crops, including 703 tonnes of unmilled rice, were destroyed.

Mr Ramos said the situation was slowly getting back to normal though the displaced needed sustained help. Two navy ships and aircraft from the main Luzon island have been sent to help with search and relief work. "We are not taking any Christmas break," Mr Ramos said. The United Nations has appealed for $28m (£18m) in aid for the area. A UN humanitarian co-ordinator, Soe Nyunt-U, voiced concern about outbreaks of disease among the evacuees.