Thousands flee homes in Philippines to escape heavy rains and flood

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 January, 2014, 11:04pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 January, 2014, 11:04pm


Thousands of people fled rising floods and an approaching storm in a fresh round of evacuations in the Philippines yesterday as the death toll from a week of foul weather rose to 37.

Nearly 13,000 people left their villages along the flooded banks of the Agusan River on the southern island of Mindanao in just 24 hours, the civil defence office in the region said.

"The rains come to this region around this time, but this year has been terrible," said John Uayan, an operations official for the government agency.

The state weather office said a weather system off the Philippines' east coast had turned into a tropical storm and would hit Mindanao's coast today, increasing the danger to residents of the already flooded Agusan basin.

The storm looks set to spare the nearby region where Super Typhoon Haiyan left nearly 8,000 people dead or missing and made more than four million people homeless in November - a rare piece of good news for the disaster-weary nation.

But many in Mindanao were bracing for a fresh wave of appalling weather. "We expect intense rain over the [Agusan] region starting tonight," forecaster Alczar Aurelio said.

More than 218,000 people are now temporarily housed in schools and other government buildings across the eastern third of Mindanao after a week of bad weather. Some of them have been there since shortly after heavy rains began pounding the region on January 10, they added.