Dozens missing in deadly southern Philippine floods

BenarNews staff
Cagayan de Oro/Cotabato City, Philippines
Dozens missing in deadly southern Philippine floods Policemen rig a rescue rope to help residents in a flooded section of Ozamiz city in the southern Philippines, Dec. 26, 2022.

Widespread flooding caused by heavy rains left at least 17 people dead and dozens missing during the Christmas weekend in the southern Philippines, authorities said as they updated the toll late Tuesday.

A low pressure area caused the heavy downpour that began Christmas Eve, trapping residents in flooded areas and forcing nearly 50,000 people from their homes.

The Office of Civil Defense in Manila had earlier reported that the remains of 13 people had been recovered.

“Most of them drowned. That’s the major cause of their deaths,” said agency spokesman Diego Agustin Mariano.

The country’s disaster agency, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said that 13 of the deaths were reported in Misamis Occidental province in northern Mindanao.

In Oroquieta City alone, in Misamis Occidental province, flood waters transformed city streets festooned with Christmas decor into rivers that engulfed parked vehicles.

Vincent Dy Jr., disaster officer of the province, said the city of Gingoog with more than 18 villages in coastal areas had been severely affected, with state weather forecasters warning of more rain this week.

“This is the first time we experienced heavy rains and flooding, and this isn't a regular occurrence. Before during heavy rains, the flood waters would subside after an hour or two,” Dy told radio station DZBB.

“The waves were high, some reaching the third story of a building.”

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is keenly aware of conditions on the ground and has ordered immediate assistance to the people of Mindanao, said Press Undersecretary Cheloy Garafil.

“President Marcos Jr. is in Malacañang monitoring and holding meetings with several officials over various issues, including giving immediate assistance to those affected by the shear line rainfall and flooding in the Visayas and Mindanao regions,” Garafil said.

A shear line is an area where warm and cold winds meet, causing rain clouds to form.

The Philippines is situated in the Pacific typhoon belt and endures about 20 tropical storms and typhoons annually, some of them devastating. 

In October, floods and landslides unleashed by rains from Typhoon Nalgae (also known as Paeng) killed at least 150 people across the Philippines. 

One of the areas hardest hit was the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), where a wall of mud buried one village in Datu Odin Sinsuat town, killing at least 63.

Jeoffrey Maitem in Davao City, Mark Navales in Cotabato City and Froilan Gallardo in Cagayan de Oro city, contributed to this report.

Rescuers and civilians survey a flooded section of Ozamiz city, in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, Dec. 26, 2022. [BenarNews]

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