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Philippines cities hold mass burials

Tue., Dec. 20, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – Two southern Philippines cities ravaged by floods that killed more than 700 people began burying decomposing bodies Monday in mass graves as the mounting death toll overwhelmed funeral parlors.

Coffins were in short supply in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, where at least 625 people were killed in the floods triggered by Tropical Storm Washi on the weekend.

Floods and landslides also killed 100 people in nearby southern and central provinces, according to the Philippine National Red Cross and the Office of Civil Defense.

“Mass burials were already held in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro,” OCD administrator Benito Ramos said. “These are unclaimed bodies.”

Ramos warned the death toll would rise as hundreds remained missing and feared dead, many swept to sea and some possibly buried under thick mud.

Tropical Storm Washi dumped more than one month’s worth of rain in less than 12 hours, 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.

The Red Cross earlier reported that as many as 911 people were missing in the calamity.


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