12/20/2011, 00.00
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Typhoon Washi, Manila declares a national emergency. First burials en masse

The toll leaps to a thousand deaths and tens of thousands homeless. President Benigno Aquino declares a state of national calamity to access special intervention funds. In Iligan (Mindanao) first burials will be en masse to avoid epidemics, 50 people buried, against the will of Cagayan de Oro inhabitants. Aid appeal launched by Msgr. Ledesma.
Cagayan de Oro (AsiaNews) - Philippine President Benigno Aquino today declared a state of national calamity, following the emergency caused by the passage of Typhoon Washi - last weekend - that hit the southern Philippines. The greatest damage is in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao region, plagued by floods and landslides. So far the toll is of at least a thousand victims, added to the 50 people still missing and tens of thousands homeless. To avert the danger of epidemics, local authorities ordered the burial of corpses in mass graves, while the funeral homes in the area are stretched to the limit. Meanwhile, the fundraising appeal launched yesterday by the Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro, Msgr. Anthony J. Ledesma continues.

The Philippine Civil Defence has confirmed that the disaster has involved at least 338 thousand people in 13 provinces of the archipelago, to date there are about 43 thousand displaced people housed in evacuation centers. The houses damaged by the typhoon and the mass of mud exceed 10 thousand units, of which one third are completely destroyed. Even schools, roads and bridges have suffered severe damage. Ricky Carandang, spokesman for President Aquino, said that the state of national calamity will allow the executive to allocate more funds for operations and reconstruction in the long run.

Meanwhile, in Iligan, a coastal industrial center of 330 thousand inhabitants, funeral agencies are no longer able to handle the burial of the victims, the centers are congested with a real danger of epidemics. For this reason the mayor Lawrence Cruz ordered the dead be buried, even if the bodies have not yet been identified. The first burial took place yesterday in mass graves in the local cemetery and covered at least 50 victims. "We are using plastic to wrap the bodies, where available," added the mayor.

In nearby Cagayan de Oro, the situation is even more chaotic, as people are opposed to mass burials. They call for the dead - at least 340 so far, but the number could increase - to be preserved until identified by relatives, but the centers are struggling to contain the emergency. Many complain that the mass burials are "anti-Christian" and yesterday met the crisis committee to develop alternative solutions, but so far no one has come up with any viable alternative.

Every year tens of typhoons hit the Philippines, causing deaths and serious damage to crops and infrastructure. At the end of September, the typhoon did Nesat caused over 100 deaths. In 2009, the country was crippled by the passage of tropical storm Ketsana and typhoon Parma which, in Manila alone, claimed more than 100 lives and displaced 3 million. AsiaNews has gathered up the appeal launched by Mgr. Ledesma, who seeking immediate help for his fellow citizens in this emergency. Here, below, the bank data for those wishing to send their contribution to the flood victims:

Branch: BPI CDO
Account name: Roman Catholic Archbp of CDO Inc.
Account: 9330-0014-42 TNX 4 D
Aid to Flood Victims.

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See also
Mindanao: outpouring of solidarity for flood victims
Typhoon in northern Philippines: Landslides and floods, hundreds feared dead
Mindanao, landslide leaves dozens of gold diggers dead and 150 missing
Help flood victims, says archbishop of Cagayan de Oro
Japan, typhoon Talas leaves dozens dead or missing


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