Philippines searches for missing after typhoon kills 500
Updated: 2011-12-18 15:03
Damaged vehicles washed away by flash floods brought forth by Typhoon Washi lie in a ditch in Balulang village in Cagayan de Oro, in southern Philippines December 17, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
Most of the fatalities were from a slum area on an island sandwiched by two rivers in Iligan. "About 70 percent of the houses on the island were washed into the sea," Amarille said.
Mindanao island, the southernmost in the Philippines, is a mineral-rich region that also produces rice and corn but is not normally in the path of an average 20 typhoons that hit the Southeast Asian country each year.
"This poses challenges to us ... We need to educate people with this kind of change in climate," Pang said. "The volume of rainfall for one month fell in just one day."
Rescued by Cargo Ship
Typhoons normally strike the central Visayas region and the south and east of Luzon, the main island in the north.
Carmelita Pulosan, 42, said she and eight family members and neighbours survived by sitting on top of the tin roof of their house as it drifted miles into the open sea after floodwater swept through their village.
They were rescued by a cargo ship.
"There was a deafening sound followed by a rush of water. We found ourselves in the river and the current took us out to the sea," Pulosan, from Cagayan de Oro, told Reuters.
"The current was very strong. God is really good to us. He saved my family," she said. Only one 3-storey building was left standing in their village, Pulosan said.
Red Cross official Pang said officials and residents did not expect such a huge volume of water cascading down mountains into river systems because the area was not in the typhoon belt.
She said Cagayan de Oro last experienced floods in 2009 but there was only minimal damage and no deaths.
Many people found their homes destroyed after returning to shattered villages, Pang said.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States, a major ally of the Philippines, was ready to help. The Chinese embassy would donate $10,000 to help in the relief efforts, an embassy official said.
Washi, downgraded to a tropical storm with gusts of up to 80 km per hour (50 miles per hour), was hovering about 60 km (40 miles) west of the southwestern city of Puerto Princesa and was expected to move out of Philippine waters late on Sunday.