Residents of the southern Philippines are reeling from a devastating flash flood that has left them picking through mud and debris to recover the bodies of more than 400 of their neighbors, many of them children.

Rainfall from Tropical Storm Washi sent walls of water crashing through coastal cities Friday night on the island of Mindanao. Most of the victims were asleep when the flooding hit.

Col. Leopoldo Galon, an army spokesman, said the disaster could prove more devastating than a major storm that killed hundreds in the capital city of Manila in 2009. Floodwaters in some areas Friday rose at a rate of more than three feet in less than an hour. Officials expect the death toll to rise. –ARK

The Guardian:

… The hardest-hit areas were in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, with many houses being swept into the sea. Most of the dead were swept away while they slept when floodwaters tore through their homes following 12 hours of torrential rain.

Earlier Colonel Leopoldo Galon, an army spokesman, said emergency workers had recovered 97 bodies, most of them children, in Cagayan de Oro. “I can’t explain how these things happened, entire villages were swept to the sea by flash floods,” Galon told Reuters. He said the death toll was expected to rise.

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