Death Toll Tops 1,000 in Philippine Floods

Church agencies teamed with international aid groups and the Philippine government to assist tens of thousands of people left homeless in northern Mindanao by flash flooding caused by an intense tropical storm that left at least 1,000 people dead. The country's National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that about 502,599 people in 13 provinces were affected by Tropical Storm Washi, which unleashed floods and landslides as people slept in their homes across northern Mindanao late Dec. 16. The council Dec. 21 placed the death toll at 1,010. More than 43,000 people were in evacuation centers, while another 218,600 people were in need of assistance outside of the centers, the council reported. Philippine President Benigno Aquino declared a national calamity in the wake of the floods, which affected small but densely populated areas of Mindanao. The thousands of people remaining in shelters are at risk of disease, authorities said. Church sources in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, two of the worst hit areas, say exact casualty figures are difficult to pin down because of the extensive damage caused by the storm.

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