Manila: Floods forced thousands to flee their homes on Friday, as the death toll rose to 56 in the southern Philippines region of Mindanao.
Sources said at least 35,000 people in the predominantly Muslim region braved waist-high water to leave flooded villages, bringing to 1.14 million the number of people displaced in 14 days of continuous torrential rains, brought about by tropical depression Lingling.
The storm was spotted in the Pacific Ocean, 230km off Davao City in the southern Philippines on Friday, authorities said.
Lingling has been pouring rains previously only on four southern regions.
Eduardo del Rosario, head of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), told Gulf News said the rains have turned the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) into a water-world, causing landslides in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur and flooding three low-lying villages in Ampatuan Town, Maguindanao.
Among the displaced, only 181,233 were given temporary residence in 324 evacuation centres, said del Rosario, adding the rest have been sought shelter with relatives or other people in unaffected areas.
Meanwhile, the body of Francisco Rivera, 65, was found in a landslide-hit area in La Filipina village, Tagum City of Davao del Norte, raising to 56 the total number of people killed by Lingling, del Rosario said.
He added that 10 more remained missing, and 63 had been injured in the four regions where the rains had first hit.
NDRRMC’s latest bulletin did not yet include data from the ARMM, said del Rosario.
More far-flung villages might remain isolated for several more days because nine roads and two bridges were totally damaged, del Rosario said and two rivers in Davao del Norte remained swollen. Two irrigation dams in Davao Oriental were destroyed.
A total of 927 houses were totally damaged and 1,501 partially damaged in the four regions, del Rosario said.
“Local government leaders were alerted about the occurrence of more landslides and floods,” said the official, adding a total of 16 landslides, six floods, and two maritime incidents had occurred over the past two weeks.
Lingling’s devastation might continue because it has remained stationary off the Pacific Ocean. It has been at 230 kilometres off Davao City for four days, said the government’s weather station.
On average, twenty typhoons visit the Philippines every year, starting in June.