The Philippines’ death toll from Tropical Storm Washi rose to 632, making it the deadliest cyclone to hit the nation in three years and sparking criticism of the government’s lack of preparation.
Eighty-two people were still missing, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in its noon report today. The cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan on the southern island of Mindanao are preparing mass graves because coffins are in short supply and funeral parlors can’t keep up with the dead, Ana Caneda, regional director of the Office of Civil Defense, said by phone.
“The suffering here is unspeakable,” Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said in a telephone interview today from Iligan City, where he is helping oversee relief operations. “The government should act here very fast. The people have already suffered and they’re making them suffer more.” The Red Cross put casualties at 652.
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