Philippines floods: Aid agencies say 120,000 in need

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionUnicef's Angela Travis says water supplies and sanitation are key concerns

Aid agencies in the Philippines are trying to reach more than 120,000 people affected by flash flooding on the island of Mindanao.

Coastal communities were devastated early on Saturday in flash floods triggered by a tropical storm.

Officials in two cities said mass burials were being organised as bodies were rapidly decomposing in the heat.

At least 972 people died in the disaster, according to goverment sources.

"We lost count for those still missing," disaster managment chief Benito Ramos said in a short statement.

Disaster agencies are attempting to provide food, water, medicine and body bags, but damaged roads are hampering efforts to reach survivors in remote villages.

The authorities on Mindanao have been criticised for their handling of the disaster, the BBC's Kate McGeown reports from Cagayan de Oro, one of the worst-hit areas.

Image caption Officials are considering burying bodies in mass graves

Other parts of the country have detailed plans of what to do if a strong storm or typhoon happens, but it seems that many officials on Mindanao were caught unprepared, she adds.

About 40,000 people on Mindanao are living in evacuation centres after losing their homes and possessions.

China and the US are among international donors offering assistance.

Mr Ramos said funeral parlours had been overwhelmed by the catastrophe.

Speaking from a boat off Cagayan de Oro, he told AFP news agency: "I'm out here retrieving bodies that are starting to rise to the surface."

Corpses unclaimed

Officials in Cagayan de Oro said corpses were piling up unclaimed at mortuaries and overworked staff had run out of coffins.

One establishment turned away the bodies of two drowned children, local media reported.

The ports of Iligan and nearby Cagayan de Oro bore the brunt of the flooding.

Two concrete communal tombs were being constructed in Iligan, said Teresita Badiang, an engineer at the Iligan mayor's office.

The bodies would be placed side by side "so that their burial will be dignified", she added.

Strict guidelines would have to be followed for mass burials, including photographing corpses and listing identifying marks, said Philippine Red Cross chief Gwendolyn Pang.

"I'm sure their families will look for them," she said.

The flash floods struck in the early hours of Saturday as a passing tropical storm coincided with high tides.

As rivers burst their banks, many were trapped in their homes while in other areas entire villages are reported to have been swept away.

Although the Philippines is struck by several typhoons and tropical storms every year, the south of the country usually escapes the worst damage.

Are you in the Philippines? Have you been affected? You can share your experiences by filling in the form below.

Your contact details

If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

Terms and conditions

The BBC's Privacy Policy

More on this story