August 10, 2006

Winds, waves wipe out southern Philippine villages

MANILA (Reuters) - Strong winds and giant waves, boosted by
a southwest monsoon, wiped out hundreds of shacks on stilts and
left thousands of people homeless in the southern Philippines,
local government officials said on Thursday.

An undetermined number of people were missing after giant
waves swept four coastal villages out to sea, said the governor
of the Tawi-tawi chain of islands near the Malaysian borders.

One child was reported killed but many survived because
most of the homes belonged to the Badjao tribe, strong swimmers
famed for their skill in diving for pearls, Sahali Sadikul told

The stormy weather was not related to a super typhoon
churning toward China's southeast coast on Thursday, a
forecaster said.

Nearly 3,000 people were brought to a mosque and several
public schools serving as temporary shelter centers as soldiers
and police officers searched the sea for survivors.

"It's like a thief in the night," said Albert Que, a local
mayor. "Most of the people were caught by surprise as winds and
waves ate their homes before dawn on Thursday."

Que appealed for food, warm clothes and other relief
materials for the displaced.

Philippine disaster officials are currently sending
emergency supplies to nearly 40,000 people sheltering from a
possible violent volcanic eruption in the center of the

Extreme weather and natural disasters often hit the
Philippines, which sits on a seismically active stretch of the
Pacific basin.