Philippines: At least 25 dead, 26 missing in Christmas rains and floods

Most of the deaths were caused by drowning from flash floods after two days of heavy rains disrupted holiday celebrations

By Reuters

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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Published: Tue 27 Dec 2022, 7:32 AM

Last updated: Wed 28 Dec 2022, 10:19 AM

The death toll from floods in the Philippines has risen to 25, officials said on Wednesday, with storms expected to dump more rain over the hardest-hit southern and central regions.

Tens of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes as heavy rain submerged rural villages, towns and highways on Christmas Day, dampening festivities on the most important holiday in the mainly Catholic nation.

At least 13 people died, most from drowning, in the province of Misamis Occidental on the southern island of Mindanao, the national disaster agency said in updating the toll.

Twenty-six people were still missing. Nine have been injured.

The state weather forecaster said that moderate to heavy rains were likely across southern and central regions on Wednesday and Thursday due to a low-pressure area off the coast that could develop into a tropical depression.

"Flooding and rain-induced landslides are likely, especially in areas that are highly or very highly susceptible to these hazards," the weather bureau said.

The disaster agency said relief efforts were under way to help people in areas hit hard by the flooding, as more than 81,000 people sheltered in evacuation centres.

Officials on Wednesday were to conduct aerial surveillance over Misamis Occidental to assess the extent of the damage.

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

The Philippines is ranked among the most vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change, and scientists have warned that storms are becoming more powerful as the world gets warmer.

Images on social media show coast guard, police and fire personnel wading through waist-deep floods and carrying residents along landslide-hit areas. Some roads were flooded by overflowing rivers nearby.

Rescue operations continued and damage to agriculture was being assessed, Carmelito Heray, head of the disaster agency in Clarin town in Misamis Occidental province, told DZBB radio station.

There was no tropical storm in the mostly Catholic nation's most important holiday, but a shear line — an area where warm and cold winds meet — caused rain clouds to form in southern Philippines.

"The big damage here is livestock because their adult pigs, chickens, goats and cows are now gone," Clarin town mayor Emeterio Roa said on radio.

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