Floods in the Philippines force tens of thousands of people to flee their homes

Christmas Day floods in the Philippines forced the evacuation of nearly 46,000 people from their homes, civil protection officials said Monday.

8 dead, 19 missing

Eight people were killed and 19 others were missing after a week of heavy seasonal rains in the southern and eastern regions of the country, they said in an updated report.

Flooding hit the south on Sunday as the disaster dampened celebrations of the nation’s most important holiday, which is mainly Catholic.

“The water was chest-high in some areas, but the rain has stopped today,” civil protection worker Robinson Lacre told AFP by phone from the city of Gingoog, which accounted for 33,000 of the 45,700. people evacuated from their homes.

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The coast guard said it rescued members of more than two dozen families in the southern city of Ozamiz and the nearby town of Clarin at the height of the flooding.

Photos released by the Coast Guard showed their orange-clad rescuers cradling small children from homes overnight in waist-deep floodwaters.

Four deaths were recorded, three by drowning, in the nearby southern towns of Jiménez and Tudela.

Fishing boat sinks

The coast guard also said strong winds and large waves sank a fishing boat on Christmas Day off the coast of the central island of Leyte. Two crew members died, while six others were rescued.

Two more people, including a girl, drowned in the eastern towns of Libmanan and Tinambac after being hit by floods several days before Christmas, the civil protection office said.

Nineteen people remain missing, most of them subsistence fishermen from the country’s Pacific coast who went out to sea despite rough conditions days before Christmas.

The weather turned nasty as the disaster-prone nation of 110 million people prepared for a long Christmas holiday.

Millions of people travel to their hometowns for family reunions during this period.

The Philippines is among the nations most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Scientists have warned that storms are becoming more powerful as the world warms.

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