Sunday, December 18, 2011

Killer Storm Leaves at Least 540 Dead, Thousands More Missing in the Philippines

Photo Credit: Associated Press

One of the worst typhoons in decades slashed a devastating path across the Philippines over the weekend, leaving death and catastrophic destruction in its horrific wake.

Reports coming out of the Asian nation say that at least 540 deaths from the killer storm have been confirmed, with thousands more people still missing. Typhoon Washi, with winds gusting up to 90 miles per hour, hit the island of Mindanao late on Friday, bringing torrential rain that also grounded many domestic flights and left wide areas without electricity and other essential services.The heavy rains also triggered flash floods and deadly landslides, which swept away entire villages, leaving automobiles, homes and buildings that withstood the powerful onslaught in several feet of mud and standing water. 

The worst hit area of the country were the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, where homes were swept into the sea with their residents still trapped inside. Rescue crews and local residents made desperate and dramatic attempts to save individuals caught in the maelstrom, pulling  people out of collapsed buildings and rushing streams of water. A large majority of the missing and dead are feared to be young children, unable to fight the quick-moving waters to reach safety.

UK and US embassies were urging their citizens to avoid non-essential travel in the Philippines due to the disaster, as both governments pledge to send money and relief to help people living in the area.

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