Philippines Typhoon Washi death toll reaches 1,249

Local residents queue for food and medical supplies outside an evacuation centre in Cagayan de Oro City on 23 December 2011
Image caption Officials are working to rehouse residents sheltering in temporary evacuation centres

A total of 1,249 people are now known to have died in flash floods that struck the southern Philippines more than a week ago.

Officials say more bodies had been found in the waters south of the island of Mindanao.

It is not clear how many people are still missing but officials say the search for bodies will continue.

Typhoon Washi struck from 16 to 18 December, devastating the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.

Many of those who died were sleeping as Typhoon Washi caused rivers to burst their banks, leading to landslides. Entire villages were washed away.

Civil defence chief Benito Ramos said that an earlier higher death toll provided by the health department had been revised downwards and that the current toll was now based on an actual count of both identified and unidentified recovered bodies.

Appeal for funds

Regional disaster council chief Ana Caneda told AFP news agency that they expected to find more bodies.

"There are still a lot of areas we have examined that are stinking of dead bodies," she told the agency. "We don't know how many people are buried under that mud."

The national disaster agency said it could take up to six months to build temporary housing for the 60,000 who are now homeless in the wake of the storm.

Many of them are currently taking temporary shelter in school buildings.

The chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, Richard Gordon, told the BBC that providing long-term housing was a challenge.

"Right now, what they (flood victims) are in need of is transitional housing," he said, adding that they would have to move out of school buildings and into tent cities by 3 January when classes start.

"The problem is land. We need to have safe land, land that will not be threatened by any earthquake or any floods or any landslides," said Mr Gordon.

Aid agencies have appealed for funds to help those who are affected. The United Nations is seeking $28.6m (£18.2m) from donors to help provide water and sanitation to storm victims.

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