Floods, landslides kill 23 in South Philippines

MANILA, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Floods and landslides in the southern Philippines have killed 23 people and caused widespread crop damage, but the water has begun to recede, civil defence officials said on Thursday.

Antonio Cloma of the Office for Civil Defence (OCD) said that the floods, which struck six provinces on Mindanao island, had caused an estimated 169 million pesos ($4.1 million) in damaged crops.

He said that many of the estimated 20,000 people who fled their homes at the height of flooding last weekend were returning to their villages.

"There are still low lying areas which are under water but the situation is no longer critical," Cloma said by telephone from the southern city of Davao.

An OCD report said landslides killed 16 people in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental provinces while seven drowned in other areas.

The floods inundated more than 300 villages, wrecked more than 50 houses and damaged agricultural areas planted to rice, corn, banana and vegetables, OCD and the agriculture department said.

President Joseph Estrada has ordered the release of 15 million pesos in emergency funds to rehabilitate affected areas.

"The fund will be utilised for the procurement of seeds and planting materials to be distributed to farmers," Agriculture Secretary Edgardo Angara told reporters. ($ = 40.6 pesos)


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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