Fishermen joined Philippine navy sailors, police, and firefighters in an ever wider search for bodies from entire villages swept away in one of the country's worst flash floods. More bodies have washed ashore, pushing the death toll to more than 1,200, an official said today. While more than 60,000 homeless spent a miserable Christmas in jam-packed schools and gymnasiums, search teams retrieved an additional 150 bodies from the sea as far as 60 miles from worst-hit Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities, says a civil defense official.
The death toll as of today stood at 1,236, with about two-thirds of the bodies unidentified. With more bodies found floating farther away, the official said authorities sought the help of fishermen to scour the sea. "We've stopped counting the missing. There are no accurate figures," he said. "Those recovered, we don't know who they are." Communist guerrillas in the south canceled today's celebration of their movement's 43rd anniversary and instead promised to donate money to flood victims and punish multinational companies they accuse of environmental destruction. A rebel spokesman said they sought funds for victims from huge pineapple and banana plantations. "Some were lukewarm to our call," he said. "That'll be a factor when we decide which ones to punish first for this destruction." (Read more Philippines stories.)