Toll rises to 17 in Philippine landslides, floods

Rescuers found more victims of landslides and floods from heavy rain in the Philippines, raising the death toll to at least 17, officials said Tuesday.

Nearly 13,000 people have sought shelter in schools and gymnasiums turned into evacuation centers on the archipelago's eastern seaboard, civil defense administrator Benito Ramos said.

The dead include eight children, three of them dug from a wall of mud that buried their homes Sunday as they slept in the central Philippines' St. Bernard township. The town in Southern Leyte province had one of the country's worst disasters in 2006 when a mudslide buried the entire village of Guinsaugon, with more than 1,000 people killed.

President Benigno Aquino III ordered an investigation into why deaths again occurred in St. Bernard, a town prone to landslides, and ordered the quick evacuation of areas susceptible to landslides and flood.

Disaster officials said of the 17 dead, 10 died of drowning, six were killed in landslides and one was electrocuted.

The latest fatalities include a man who drowned in southern Bislig city and a 12-year-old boy electrocuted in floodwaters in southern Agusan del Sur province. A 6-year-old boy also drowned in Agusan del Sur, while another body was dug from landslides in the same province, regional disaster official Amado Posas said.

Four people were injured in landslides in St. Bernard, and a fisherman is missing after his boat capsized in eastern Catanduanes province, Ramos added.