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Philippines faces more rain as flood deaths mount

MANILA, January 18, 2011 (AFP) – Hundreds of thousands of people already reeling from floods across the Philippines have been told to expect further heavy rains until March, authorities said Tuesday, as the disaster death toll rose to 53.

“There will be more rains in areas which should already be experiencing the dry season,” the national weather bureau’s spokeswoman, Venus Valdemoro, told AFP.

La Nina, the weather pattern whereby cooler sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean cause high rainfall, was partly responsible for the unseasonal downpours, she said.

Heavy rains have swamped much of the country since late December, killing at least 53 people, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said on Tuesday, lifting its confirmed death toll by two.

Most of the victims drowned or were killed in landslides, it said.

Twenty more people are missing, including four crew members of a small fishing vessel that the coast guard reported had sunk in bad weather off the western island of Palawan on Monday.

Thirty-one other crew members were rescued, a coast guard official told AFP.

More than half a million people across the country have received government aid because of the rains, while 93,000 had fled their homes, according to the disaster council.

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