Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Philippine president declares national calamity after storm which has left near 1000 People Dead - 20th Dec 2011

President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines declared a state of national calamity on Tuesday after visiting areas in the south of the country that were devastated by a tropical storm over the weekend.

The death toll continued to rise from Tropical Storm Washi, which has left tens of thousands of people homeless as aid agencies struggle to deal with a growing humanitarian crisis.

Aquino made the declaration in a speech broadcast on national radio after surveying the destruction in the port cities Iligan and Cagayan de Oro on the island of Mindanao, where the vast majority of the dead were found.

Figures released by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council put the death toll at 957 early Tuesday.

The Philippine Red Cross reported a lower death toll, at 713.

Survivors in the area recounted brushes with death as flooding from the storm struck in the middle of the night. Now, they're trying to piece their lives back together.

"We escaped just in time," said Rona Magto, a high school teacher and mother of two from Iligan City. "Those behind us were already flooded and cars were afloat. There was water everywhere and the current was so strong."

Rona and her family survived, but others, including her best friend, Remy Rubio, are missing. Read More