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article imagePhilippines scraps plans for mass graves to bury flood victims

By Leo Reyes     Dec 22, 2011 in Environment
Local authorities in Southern Philippines have decided to scrap plans for mass burial of unclaimed and decomposing bodies of flash flood victims following the devastation caused by Tropical Storm "Washi" that hit the low lying villages Friday night
Local authorities in the hardly-hit cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan are struggling to cope with the situation as dead bodies of flood victims could no longer be accommodated in funeral parlors due to lack of space and coffins for decent burial.
Iligan City Mayor Lawrence Cruz said unclaimed dead bodies that are in advanced state of decomposition will be buried in mass graves so they don't pose health risk.
"Today we will dig a mass grave and bury the unclaimed bodies as well as those in an advanced state of decomposition," he said on national television. But the plan was called off later so that proper health and police authorities can tag the bodies for easy identification by their relatives if they so decide to dig their graves.
Philippine President Noynoy Aquino visited the affected areas mostly located in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan Cities Tuesday and pledged aid and immediate relocation of flood victims.
Death toll has risen to over 1,000 as search and rescue operations continue in the coastal waters of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities.
Mindanao is seldom hit by typhoons and floods unlike the other parts of the archipelago which are situated along the so called typhoon path. It is uncommon for the people of Mindanao to experience such a big magnitude of rainfall and resulting floodwater that hit most part of islands last Friday.
Rescue and relief operations are ongoing with the assistance of the Philippine National Red Cross headed by former Senator Richard Gordon and Dinky Soliman of the Social Welfare department.
Defense authorities and the military have deployed some 20,000 troops in the affected areas of Mindanao to assist in the evacuation of residents.
The death toll is still expected to rise as rescue operations by different government agencies continue as flood water in low-lying areas have receded.
Illegal logging in the uplands have caused soil erosion that normally triggers landslides. Long period of continues rainfall have caused water level on rivers and streams to rise which later swept cut logs down the low-lying areas, hitting lightly-built homes along the riverbanks.
Many of the deaths were pinned down by logs that were pushed by strong currents from the mountains down to the low lying areas.
More about Flash floods, Philippines, Typhoons, Landslides
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