Floods in the Philippines force tens of thousands to flee

Christmas Day flooding in the Philippines forced the evacuation of nearly 46,000 people from their homes, civil defense officials said Monday.

8 dead, 19 missing

Eight people were killed and 19 others were missing after a week of heavy seasonal rains in the country’s southern and eastern regions, an updated report said.

Flooding hit the south on Sunday as the disaster dampened celebrations of the mainly Catholic nation’s most important holiday.

“Water was up to our chests in some areas, but today the rain stopped,” civil defense worker Robinson Lacre told AFP by phone from the town of Gingoog, where 33,000 of the 45,700 people were evacuated from their homes.

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The Coast Guard said it rescued members of more than two dozen families in the southern city of Ozamiz and the nearby city of Clarin at the height of the flooding.

Photos released by the Coast Guard showed their orange-clad rescuers cradling infants who were swept from homes by waist-deep floodwaters at night.

Four deaths – three from drowning – were reported in the nearby southern towns of Jimenez and Tudela.

Fishing boat sinks

The Coastguard also said strong winds and large waves sank a fishing boat off the coast of the central island of Leyte on Christmas Day. Two crew members were killed while six others were rescued.

Two others, including a little girl, drowned in the eastern towns of Libmanan and Tinambac after floods hit them a few days before Christmas, the civil defense agency said.

Nineteen people remain missing, most of them fishermen from the country’s Pacific coast, who set out to sea days before Christmas despite rough conditions.

The weather turned bad as the disaster-prone nation of 110 million prepared for a long Christmas holiday.

Millions of people travel to their hometowns for family reunions during this time.

The Philippines is among the countries most affected by the impacts of climate change.

Scientists have warned that storms will intensify as the world warms.

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