Philippine floods, landslides kill 42

Sustained heavy rain and floods in the central and southern Philippines have killed 42 people and damaged crops and infrastructure worth more than 1 billion pesos ($23 million), disaster officials said on Thursday.

Floods and landslides caused by more than two weeks of heavy rains in late December and January have displaced nearly 400,000 people, Benito Ramos, head of the government’s disaster agency, told reporters on Thursday.

Major rice and corn production areas in the north and western part of the country have been spared.

“Our soldiers are using helicopters to deliver relief goods and survey areas for clearing and rehabilitation,” Ramos said, appealing for food, water, medicines and warm clothes.

Most of the dead either drowned or were buried by mudslides, Ramos said. Five people are still missing, including three fisherman.

About a third of the country’s 80 provinces had been affected by the rains, which have destroyed roads and bridges, small rice and corn farms and houses made of light materials, Ramos said.

On Friday, President Benigno Aquino will visit several flood-hit provinces in the central Bicol, eastern Visayas and Mindanao regions to assess the damage and determine how much money is needed for rebuilding.