Majority of flood victims are children

Aid agencies from all over the world are continuing their emergency response in the Philippines where deadly flash floods claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people.

Organisations including Save the Children have relief teams on the ground after a tropical storm reached landfall at night and wrought havoc.

Southern cities such as Iligan and Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao Island had 12 hours of sustained rainfall, causing landslides, rivers to burst their banks and sending walls of water crashing down mountain slopes into homes.

Save the Children said it understood the majority of the dead victims were children, and that they were concerned about youngsters who had become separated from their parents. Hundreds of people were also missing in the aftermath of the disaster amid fears that the death toll will rise once response teams reach outlying areas.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) had already advised Britons against travelling to the region due to terrorist fears and in the wake of the floods urged anyone in the area to contact friends and relatives.

British Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne said: “The loss of life by flooding in the Philippines is tragic. I visited the Philippines earlier this month and know how keenly this loss will be felt by all its people. I would like to express my sincere condolences to the families and friends of those affected. My thoughts are with them and the government of the Philippines as they lead the recovery work.”

An FCO spokeswoman said they were not aware of any British deaths or casualties.

As the flood waters rose, tens of thousands of people sought shelter on high ground, and thousands of soldiers, backed by emergency teams, were mobilised to help clear coastal cities.

Philippine Red Cross secretary general Gwen Pang said on Saturday night that 436 people had so far been declared dead, mainly in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. Ms Pang told the Press Association: “We are expecting to receive a higher number of people who have died because we haven’t reached many areas yet. Not only that, but the floods have damaged properties and livelihoods. We are appealing for support because the need for help is really great on the ground.”

Save the Children’s country director in the Philippines Anna Lindenfors said: “Children who have survived this disaster will be hungry, frightened and exhausted. We are especially worried about children who may have been separated from their parents during the flooding, as rains continue to fall and there is a very real risk of landslides causing further damage.” (Associated Press)