Government declares state of calamity in Iligan, other worst-hit areas

Government declares state of calamity in Iligan, other worst-hit areas

A state of calamity was declared in areas worst hit by the floods namely Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City in Mindanao, as well as the cities of Dumaguete and Valencia in Negros Oriental province in the Visayas.

On going search, rescue, and retrieval operations showed the devastating grim effects of flash floods caused by tropical storm “Sendong” (international name: Washi) as the death toll topped 600 with over 800 more people still missing, officials said Sunday.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director Benito Ramos placed the official number of fatalities only at 516 but said the figures were likely to rise.

The Philippine Army (PA) and local officials and personnel on the field said the death toll rose to 618 with at least 868 still missing by last night.

Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Secretary-General Gwendolyn Pang said the death toll will most likely rise because many villages remain isolated and unreached by overwhelmed disaster-response personnel.

Last Sunday, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay visited the evacuation centers in Macasandig, City Central Elementary School and West City Elementary School and pledged to give 10,000 relief goods o victims in CDO and 5,000 in Iligan City.

President Benigno S. Aquino III will visit the areas devastated by flash floods in Mindanao Tuesday (December 20), particularly the worst-hit cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, the NDRRMC said.

Washi dumped more than a month of average rains on Mindanao in just 12 hours. Forecaster Leny Ruiz said records show that storms that follow the same path as Washi come only once in about every 12 years.

The Obama administration through US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton offered its “deepest condolences’’ for the devastation in Southern Philippines.