Philippines floods, landslides kill 44 after Christmas Day rains

The death toll from the Christmas Day rains and flooding in southern Phillippines has gone up to 44, authorities said on Friday.

Twenty-eight are still missing, the national disaster agency said and noted that the damage to infrastructure and crops is around $24.4m.

On Christmas Day, celebrations were disrupted for thousands of residents who were forced to evacuate because of flash floods. A day later, authorities explained the floods in the country’s southern provinces were the consequence of heavy rains.

Images and videos on social media showed people trapped in floodwater. And rescue workers have been lining up to help residents out of flood waters.

Reuters reported that heavy rains submerged villages, towns and highways in the Visayas and Mindanao regions on Christmas Day, which led more than 50,000 people to seek shelter in rescue centres.

The floods had subsided but intermittent rains continued, the disaster agency said in a bulletin on Friday.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said he may visit the stricken areas to assess the situation after his scheduled trip to China from 3 January to 5 January.

“Unfortunately, the rainfall continues. So we have to keep watching the other areas also,” a statement from the presidential palace quoted him as saying.

Meanwhile, some residents in the southern provinces were seen in photos and videos shared on social media, hanging on to floaters as coast guard rescuers pulled them across chest-deep floods using a rope.

The Phillippines disaster agency said that 30 deaths were accounted for from the southern Philippines, six in the Bicol region on the main Luzon Island and three in the central Philippines.

The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate crisis-induced disasters as global warming makes heavy rainfall and storms more likely around the world.

The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,600 islands, sees an average of 20 tropical storms annually.

Earlier this month, tropical storm Rosal, also called Pakhar, brought heavy rain and strong winds to parts of the country. Rosal was the Philippines’ 18th tropical cyclone for 2022 and the first for December, according to the online news website Rappler.