Storm, floods in south Philippines kill nearly 60

December 16, 2011 - 11:00 PM

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Flash floods triggered by a tropical storm have killed nearly 60 people in the southern Philippines, with many more missing across vast regions, officials said Saturday.

Lemuel Gunda, head of a rescue team in Cagayan de Oro city, told The Associated Press that at least 40 bodies were recovered there.

Mayor Lawrence Cruz of nearby Iligan said that at least 15 people were killed in his city alone and that many more were missing.

Those missing included a radio broadcaster who was swept away while trying to save his neighbors, Cruz said.

The chief of the national disaster rescue agency, Benito Ramos, said that officials were still getting reports from the field and that casualties would likely rise.

The floods were triggered by Tropical Storm Washi, which dumped heavy rains over the southern Mindanao region overnight.

Ramos said the dead included at least nine people in a single village in Lanao del Norte province, with floodwaters surging in the middle of the night and quickly reaching rooftops, trapping many residents and causing them to drown.

"Massive flooding had been reported over the region, especially in Iligan city and Cagayan de Oro city," Ramos said, adding that tens of thousands of people sought shelter on high ground.

Back-to-back typhoons in September left more than 100 people dead in the northern Philippines.