Fresh floods bring more misery to Philippines

Fresh floods are bringing more misery to the southern Philippines, a week after tropical storm Washi killed more than 1,200 and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

A low pressure area, combining with a cold front, brought flooding to some parts of Mindanao island over the past two days and further strained search and relief operations for those affected by Washi, officials said on Wednesday.

"There was pre-emptive evacuation. There was fresh flooding in some towns in the northeastern side of Mindanao," Benito Ramos, who heads the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in Manila, told AFP.

"This has complicated our relief operations, but we are pressing ahead and the local government units were prepared this time," he said. "They had learned their lesson."

He said one major river system that cuts through several towns burst its banks, washing away homes made of light materials, though there were no new casualties from the fresh floods.

Ramos said relief operations were ongoing for hundreds of thousands affected by Washi, which triggered floods that swept away whole villages built on sandbars and river banks in dozens of Mindanao towns from December 16 to 18.

Government efforts were concentrated on the port cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, which suffered the brunt of the storm, and where many are still believed missing, Ramos added.

Those affected by the new floods were in areas about 150 kilometres (93 miles) to the east of Iligan and Cagayan, he said.

Washi displaced more than 431,000 people with more than 54,000 huddled in overcrowded evacuation centres -- usually schoolhouses and gymnasiums, mostly in Cagayan and Iligan.

The death toll from Washi stood at 1,249 as of Wednesday morning, but Ramos said search for dozens of others missing were still ongoing and could continue into the near year.