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Tens of thousands in the Philippines have fled to higher ground, several hundred have been killed and many more are missing after a tropical storm in the area resulted in huge flash floods.
“Massive flooding has been reported over the region, especially in Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City,” national disaster rescue agency head Benito Ramos told the BBC.
Much of the flooding occurred during the night while residents of the region affected were sleeping. The latest reports say as many as 430 people have been brought to funeral parlors around the country, but officials say the numbers might rise because many are still missing.
As many as 10,000 soldiers are reportedly helping with rescue efforts.
“I can’t explain how these things happened,” Military Spokesman Colonel Leopoldo Galon told the BBC. “Entire villages were swept into the sea.”
Though tropical storms are common in the Philippines, most take a more northern track. Residents of Cagayan de Oro City and the surrounding area were warned ahead of Tropical Storm Washi, but few residents opted to evacuate before it struck.
Some domestic flights in the country have been canceled and many areas were left without power. One report said that the floodwaters rose 11 feet in under one hour.