Water, body bags rushed to flood-ravaged Philippine cities

Water, body bags rushed to flood-ravaged Philippine cities

Authorities rushed drinking water and body bags Monday to two southern Philippine cities devastated by tropical-storm-related flooding, which has killed more than 650 people, dpa reported.

Coffins were running out and funeral parlours unable to keep up with the mounting death toll in the southern cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, where 552 people died in the floods, according to the Philippine National Red Cross.

In Iligan, relief workers began to dig mass graves for dozens of bodies, Mayor Lawrence Cruz said.

"The funeral parlours can no longer accept bodies," he said. "So this day, we're digging shallow graves for unclaimed bodies. There are about 50 cadavers that are already decomposing."

Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Vicente Emano said many bodies have been placed in sacks and stacked outside funeral parlours in the municipality.

"There are just so many dead, we've run out of coffins and body bags," he said.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the department was already working to send hundreds of body bags to the two cities and ensure that bodies are properly handled.

Aid agencies and the government also dispatched potable water to the affected areas, where the supply was running out.

Ladele Sagrado, a spokesman for the Cagayan de Oro City water district, said the municipality's water facility was damaged by the floods.

"This facility supplies up to 50 per cent of the water supply in the city, so the damage has caused a shortfall in supply of around 80 per cent," he said.

Tropical Storm Washi dumped more than one month's worth of rains in less than 12 hours in the southern Philippines, triggering the floods that hit in the night as residents slept.

The rampaging, muddy waters washed out houses, some with people inside. Thick mud, toppled trees, damaged vehicles, iron sheeting and other debris littered streets in the affected areas.

Washi, which blew out of the Philippines Sunday, also caused floods and landslides in other southern and central provinces, killing more than 100 people, according to the Red Cross.

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