The death toll from recent floods and landslides in the Philippines has risen to 51, officials said Monday, as authorities distribute food to the most affected residents.
The death toll could rise further as rescue workers are still searching for 19 people still missing more than a week after heavy rains hit southern and central parts of the country over the Christmas weekend, according to the national disaster agency.
Bad weather hit the country of 110 million people, most of them Catholics, as it prepared for the Christmas holidays.
More than 270,000 people were forced to go to emergency shelters, while rains flooded rural villages, destroying or damaging more than 4,500 homes, and destroying more than 7,000 hectares of crops.
Instead of celebrating with their loved ones, thousands of families were busy cleaning homes and shops after the flood waters receded.
Most of the deaths were recorded in Misamis Occidental Province on the southern island of Mindanao, where 19 people died from drowning or from landslides caused by rain.
Forecasts of new floods and landslides
The weather office predicted that there will be floods and landslides caused by rain, especially in areas exposed or highly exposed to this type of risk.
The disaster agency stated that rescue efforts are underway to help people residing in the areas most affected by the floods, while more than 81,000 people have sought refuge in evacuation centers.
Officials conducted an aerial reconnaissance operation over Misamis Occidental to assess the extent of the damage.
The weather turned sour over the weekend as the disaster-prone country of 110 million people prepared for a long Christmas holiday.
The Philippines is among the countries most vulnerable to the repercussions of climate change, while scientists warn that storms are becoming more intense as global temperatures rise.