More than 285 people are dead and 400 missing after Tropical Storm Sendong ripped Iligan City on Friday December 15, 2011.

Despite the claims that there were tropical storm signal warning from PAGASA – the Philippine government agency for weather forecasting, flood control, astronomical observations, and time service, there was no known "pre-emptive evacuation" that took place. Torrential rains attacked the area while most families were sleeping. Rivers swelled and rapidly overflowed its banks immediately wiping out  homes.

Hundreds of men, women and children were drowned leaving a toll of 285 reported dead and 400 still missing as of December 21.

The dead quickly overwhelmed the local mortuaries. Soon bodies were no longer accepted and they were simply stacked up outside.  A shortage of embalming fluid and coffins made proper burial impossible.  Relief efforts were slow to materialize and thousands of homeless were soon hungry and unclothed.

Some survivors said that huge logs, illegally cut, came racing down the river and destroyed houses and struck survivors. The fortunate ones clung to the logs and floated to safety.

The government and local media are investigating this illegal lumbering and have promised action against those who put profit above the safety of fellow citizens. 

Currently, combined efforts of hundreds of local volunteers and Army personnel are providing a minimal amount of food, water and blankets to the homeless.  Due on Friday, the 23rd of December is the largest ship in the Philippine navy which will carry relief supplies including 400 much-needed coffins. 

Photo credits: Photos by the writer except for bird's eye view of illegal logs ramming against the houses, which was taken by Marc Claro.

Reporter Irma S. Boza is a freelance photographer and member of the Lanao Press Club, Iligan City.


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