MANILA, Philippines — Fishermen joined Philippine navy sailors, police and firefighters in an ever wider search for bodies from one of the country's worst flash floods that swept away entire villages. More bodies washed up ashore, pushing the death toll to more than 1,200, an official said today.
While more than 60,000 homeless from hundreds of flood-ravaged villages spent a miserable Christmas in jam-packed schools and gymnasiums, search teams retrieved an additional 150 bodies from the sea as far as 60 miles from worst-hit Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities, said Benito Ramos, head of the Office of Civil Defense.
He said it would take three to six months to restore some normalcy and construct temporary housing to free up schools that are now serving as refugee camps.
The death toll as of Monday stood at 1,236, with about two-thirds of the bodies unidentified. With more bodies found floating farther away, Ramos said authorities sought the help of fishermen to scour the sea.
"We've stopped counting the missing. There are no accurate figures," Ramos said. "Those recovered, we don't know who they are."