(Photo: REUTERS/Erik De Castro)
More than 1,000 people remain missing in the southern Philippines after last week’s deadly tropical storm hit the area, unleashing devastating flash floods and landslides across the country.
Killing as many as those missing, Tropical Storm Washi, which entered the Philippines on Dec. 16, wiped away entire villages and made homeless more than 275,000 people.
The Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council announced that as of 6 a.m. Friday, Dec. 23, the total number of missing people had risen to 1,079 while 1,080 were reported to be dead.
It also revealed that 1,979 people were injured while 442 residents had been rescued.
Additionally, the disaster council estimated that the total number of people affected by the storm was 102,899 families or 674,472 persons.
Currently, nearly 50,000 people are staying in evacuation centers, while 266,266 remain unassisted.
President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines declared a state of national calamity as a result of the storm.
On Wednesday, the United Nations stated that Washi, locally known as Sendong, created “huge” humanitarian needs on the island of Mindanao, which suffered the brunt of the devastation.
They announced that they were rapidly mobilizing resources to assist the Government of the Philippines, hoping to help the nearly half a million people affected.
Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, praised the quick reaction of local communities and authorities who launched search and rescue operations, established evacuation centers and provided immediate assistance.
“The government responded quickly to the disaster with a wide range of national, regional and local assets,” Amos noted in a statement. “However, the needs are huge and additional supplies and expertise is needed to rapidly scale up the response and support local capacity.”
The USG also welcomed the government’s decision to accept international assistance and stated that the international humanitarian community would respond with all of its resources at hand.
“The first priority is to help those who are displaced as a result of the floods,” Amos said. “People urgently need shelter and clean drinking water, as well as bedding, food and basic household items. I am allocating $3 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to kick-start some of this urgently needed help.”
World Vision, a Christian international relief organization, has mobilized teams to provide food, water and hygiene kits for thousands of families. The group has also set up a Child-Friendly Space to provide children a safe place to play.
The disaster council estimated the cost of damage to be more than one billion Philippine pesos or 23 million U.S. dollars.