Flooding Kills Scores in Southern Philippines


By FLOYD WHALEY
MANILA — Flash floods in the southern Philippines on Saturday sent water gushing into homes, killing at least 200 and surprising families who fled to rooftops clutching children, officials said. More than 400 people are missing.

“The rivers flooded and washed through villages,” said Col. Leopoldo Galon, a military spokesman. “Soldiers conducting search-and-rescue operations are finding bodies in all areas, in homes, rivers, off shore, in the street. Casualties are everywhere.”

The flooding was triggered by tropical storm Washi, which hit the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on Friday, creating wind gusts of up to 56 miles an hour and dumping heavy rain in the area. By the early morning hours of Saturday, the storm had triggered flooding in the towns of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City, officials said.

The heavy rain sent water pouring down mountains and into already swollen rivers that quickly engulfed areas in the northern part of Mindanao. Fast-rising waters gushed into homes after 2 a.m., when most were sleeping, said Benito Ramos, a civil defense official, during a news briefing in Manila.

Washi is the 19th storm to hit the country this year, but Mr. Ramos said typhoons and tropical storms usually strike farther north in the Philippines and this one took a path that officials had never seen before. As a result, many residents were caught off guard by the speed and ferocity of the floodwaters. Local officials confirmed his assessment.

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