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Unexpected tropical storm devastates southern Philippine island

An unexpected tropical storm has left more than 650 residents of the southern Philippine island of Mindanao dead, while hundreds more are missing, IRIN reports.

The storm, named Washi, hit the island on December 17 and 18 and was something that the government wasn't prepared for, as they thought it was going to be much smaller.

"The northern part of Mindanao was never a storm path, so local officials were left unprepared," Benito Ramos, a former army general and head of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), told the publication. "Everyone was sleeping when the floods struck before dawn. Chaos followed in the darkness."

Washi caused a record amount of rainfall on the island, leading to landslides, flash floods, overflooded rivers and washed out streets in 13 provinces. NDRRMC reports that more than 143,000 people have been affected, with more than 46,000 living in 47 centers opened as makeshift shelters.

"There was no time to retrieve dry clothes and supplies," Alicia Mapuyag, a mother of five from the town of Illigan told the news outlet. "We just grabbed each other and went outside. Everyone was in the same situation. People were crying out the names of their missing loved ones. It was terrible."

Humanitarians are urging outside nations to donate in order to help residents tackle food security and water borne illness in the upcoming months. 
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