The Philippine cities of Cagayan de Oro and nearby Iligan on Mindanao island were worst hit when Typhoon Wasi slammed ashore while people slept late on Friday and early Saturday, sending torrents of water and mud through villages and stripping mountainsides bare.
“This is the first time this has happened in our city,” Vicente Emano, mayor of Cagayan de Oro, said in a radio interview. He said officials in the area did not receive adequate warning before the typhoon struck.
The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) estimated 497 were killed in eight provinces in the southern Mindanao region, with more than 100 still missing.
“It’s difficult to be certain on those missing,” Gwendolyn Pang, secretary-general of the PNRC, told Reuters. “The floods washed out whole houses and families inside. It’s possible entire families are dead and no one is reporting them missing.”