180 dead in Philippine storm

2011-12-17 12:37

Manila - The death toll from tropical storm Washi surged to 180 on Saturday with nearly 400 people missing in flash floods that ravaged the southern Philippines, officials said.

Regional military spokespeople told reporters 97 bodies were recovered in Cagayan de Oro, a major port on Mindanao island, and 75 were found in Iligan, a nearby southern port, accounting for most of the deaths.

They said 375 people were still missing from the two cities alone.

Colonel Leopoldo Galon told reporters army troops using trucks, boats, and helicopters had rescued at least 2 000 residents of Cagayan de Oro.

Separately, Lieutenant-Colonel Randolph Cabangbang said 15 people who had been swept to sea off Iligan had been rescued.

Washi struck the island's east coast on Friday, also triggering a landslide that killed five people, while three people drowned in the southern town of Polanco.

The storm is expected to slam into the western island of Palawan on Saturday night after crossing across the Sulu Sea with peak winds of 75km/h, the state weather service said.