MANILA, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- Ten days after tropical storm Washi (local name: Sendong) brought massive rains and flooding in parts of the southern Philippine region of Mindanao and the central region of Visayas, workers continued to retrieve more bodies as the official death toll rose to 1,236 on Sunday.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director and concurrent Office of Civil Defense administrator Benito Ramos said the retrieval operations would continue as long as people were being fished out from the water.
"We have expanded the retrieval operations. We will continue the retrieval operations... We will pursue it as long as it takes.. . In the event that we do not recover bodies for three consecutive days, then we will call off the search," said Ramos.
A number of agencies are involved in the retrieval operations, including the Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, the Philippine National Police Maritime Group and even the Air Force, in collaboration with local groups and fishermen.
The NDRRMC said about 1,079 people have been reported missing but the number is subject to "reconciliation" and "validation." Officials have said the people reported missing could be among the hundreds of fatalities who have yet to be identified.
As of Sunday, the NDRRMC said, 108,798 families or 695,195 persons have been affected by Washi, of which 14,089 families or 69,287 persons were housed in 46 evacuation centers.