Over 500 dead and 35,000 homeless after tropical storm Washi/Sendong ravages Philippines
The Philippines government and the Red Cross have appealed for help to feed, clothe and house more than 35,000 people made homeless by tropical storm Washi, which killed more than 500 people as passed over the south of the country this weekend.
The military has mobilised a 20,000-strong force in a huge rescue and relief operation on the north coast of the island of Mindanao, where the major ports of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan were worst hit by the storm, also known as Sendong.
The Philippine government was airlifting mats, blankets and clothes to the area, according to Benito Ramos, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Bottled drinking water was to be airlifted there on Sunday afternoon to Cagayan de Oro, GMA television reported.
The Red Cross said Sunday that 521 people have been confirmed dead and 370 are missing.
Cagayan de Oro mayorVicente Emano said he expected the death toll to reach 500 in his city alone.
Mindanao is not usually a typhoon-prone area and residents were unprepared, "mostly shocked by the flashfloods that swept away their belongings and source of livelihood such as crops and livestocks", according to Philippine Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino has ordered a review of the country's disaster defences after reports that residents were unprepared for such a deadly storm. He is planning a visit to the area.
Debris has to be cleared, electricity and drinking water have to be restored and damaged roads and bridges must be repaired, officials said.