On December 17, Typhoon Washi made landfall in the Philippines, triggering flash floods across the north of the island. More than 500 people are believed to have been killed with hundreds still missing. There is massive damage to infrastructure, houses and agriculture, no running water and limited power is available in affected areas. In all, more than 135,000 people are affected, 45,000 of whom have been forced to seek refuge in evacuation centers.
Mass burials are planned in the Philippines after a major tropical storm killed more than 1,000 and left tens of thousands homeless.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino visited parts of the country devastated by deadly storms Tuesday, observing the work of rescuers and relief officials.
Aquino declared a national disaster and said the government would now focus on helping the tens of thousands left homeless by Typhoon Washi, which hit southern Mindanao island and surrounding areas at the weekend.
“First priority is to relocate to areas that no longer pose a danger to them,” the president told a meeting in Cagayan de Oro, where some 600 people lost their lives as flash floods hit early on Saturday.
About 40,000 people on Mindanao, many of whom were already desperately poor, are now living in evacuation centres after losing their homes and possessions.
Shelters in the area are severely over-crowded, according to charity organisations.
Nearly 1,000 people were killed after heavy rains from the storm caused mudslides and extensive flooding across the region.
The humanitarian crisis is now so bad that some cities plan to conduct mass burials of unidentified bodies on Tuesday amid growing health concerns.
Officials have promised that the mass burials will be conducted with great care to “ensure dignity” for victims of the storm, but there is huge opposition to such plans from the loves ones of those still missing.
Disaster agencies are attempting to provide food, water, medicine and body bags, but damaged roads are hampering efforts to reach survivors in remote villages.
After widespread criticism that the government was caught unprepared, President Aquino promised a full review into disaster plans, to ensure such devastation could not happen again.