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45 dead, more than 260,000 displaced in Philippines flooding

By Tim Hume, CNN
updated 2:29 AM EST, Wed January 22, 2014
A resident of Butuan City on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao wades through floodwaters.
A resident of Butuan City on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao wades through floodwaters.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Flash floods and landslides have left 45 dead in the Philippines in recent days
  • More than 55,000 families, or 260,000 people, have been displaced by the storm
  • Most of the deaths were by drowning or in landslides
  • The heavy rains were brought by tropical depression Agaton, which has now dissipated

(CNN) -- A tropical depression that has brought flash flooding and landslides to the southern Philippines has left 45 people dead and displaced more than 260,000, authorities say.

Nearly 900,000 people have been affected by the heavy rains brought by Tropical Depression Agaton, having lashed the country for days, says the country's national disaster agency, with more than 55,000 families currently in emergency shelter in 585 evacuation centers.

Among those affected are survivors of November's Typhoon Haiyan, which left millions homeless in the Philippines, says relief organization Oxfam.

Oxfam's Philippines country director Justin Morgan said in a statement that thousands made homeless by Haiyan had been evacuated from rain-collapsed tents and flooded makeshift shelters to avoid being left exposed to the elements by Agaton, including in the ravaged city of Guiuan, the first town in Haiyan's path.

On top of the official death toll of 45, the Philippines national disaster agency said 68 people were injured and eight missing. Most of the deaths occurred in the regions of Caraga (19) and Davao (18), both situated on the southernmost island of Mindanao.

Most of the deaths were by drowning or in landslides, the disaster agency said.

More than 800 houses have been destroyed by Agaton, and nearly 1,300 partially damaged, while 50 roads and 25 bridges have been rendered impassable by flooding.

READ MORE: Philippines gets more than its fair share of disasters

The current onslaught of bad weather began Friday when a low pressure area southeast of Guiuan developed into a tropical depression, with winds reaching 55 kilometers per hour (34 miles per hour) near its center.

After drifting east and west over the south of the country, Agaton weakened to become categorized as a "low pressure area" Monday. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, PAGASA, said in an advisory late Wednesday that the "low pressure area" had dissipated.

PAGASA said that Mindanao and the Eastern Visayas could expect isolated showers and thunderstorms, while strong to gale-force winds associated with the surge of the monsoon were predicted to affect the seaboards of Luzon and the Eastern Visayas. It advised fishing vessels not to go to sea in order to avoid the expected large waves.

Over the last decade, the Philippines has consistently ranked in the top five most disaster-hit countries -- along with China, the United States, India and Indonesia -- according to the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, or CRED.

Sitting on the western rim of the Pacific Ocean, the Philippines is situated in the most active area for tropical cyclones, due to the surrounding expanse of deep, warm ocean water.

Its more than 7,000 islands offer plenty of exposed coastline to the mercy of wind and rain, while its many mountains, dropping sharply to coastal areas, present a risk of landslides. Many buildings in the Philippines are not built to withstand a heavy battering from the elements.

CNN's Hilary Whiteman contributed to this report.

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