The death toll from recent flooding and mudslides in the disaster-prone Philippines has risen to 51, officials said Monday, as authorities distribute food parcels to hardest-hit communities.

The death toll could rise further as rescuers search for 19 people still missing more than a week after heavy rains hit the central and southern regions over Christmas weekend, according to the national disaster agency. .

Bad weather struck as the majority Catholic nation of 110 million people braced for a lengthy Christmas vacation.

More than 270,000 people had to seek emergency shelter as downpours inundated rural villages, leaving more than 4,500 houses damaged or destroyed and wiping out more than 7,000 hectares (17,300 acres) of crops.

Instead of celebrating with their loved ones, thousands of families were forced to clean up their homes and shops after the floods subsided.

Most of the deaths have been in Misamis Occidental province on the southern island of Mindanao, where 19 people died from drowning or rain-induced landslides.

The Philippines is ranked among the nations most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and scientists have warned that storms are becoming more powerful as the world warms.


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