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Fresh floods strain Philippine relief, rescue operations

By Girlie Linao

McClatchy Tribune

LAST UPDATED: 9:41 a.m. HST, Dec 28, 2011

MANILA, Philippines >> Fresh floods in the Philippines have strained ongoing relief and rescue operations for the victims of Tropical Storm Washi, which has killed more 1,200 and left hundreds of thousands homeless, officials said Wednesday.

The new floods affected 14 provinces in the country’s east coast and southern region after days of heavy rains. Four people drowned when their boat capsized in the north-east province of Isabela, while two others died in the central province of Cebu.

Benito Ramos, administrator of the Office of Civil Defense, said relief and rescue operations were being stretched by the fresh floods as soldiers, police officers and volunteers were dispatched to help more than 53,000 new victims.

“We’re working double time because of the new floods, but we’re pushing ahead,” he said. “Luckily authorities were able to implement pre-emptive evacuations in the new areas affected by the floods so there are few casualties.”

Ramos said the death toll in floods triggered by Washi stood at 1,249, down from earlier estimates of 1,453. A further 84 were still confirmed missing, while reports of more than 1,000 unaccounted-for victims were being verified.

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