Manila, Dec 31 (Xinhua/UNB) -- The death toll from landslides and flooding triggered by heavy rains in the Philippines has risen to 61, the government said on Monday.
The deaths were mostly due to landslides and drowning in the Bicol region and Eastern Visayas in the northern and central Philippines, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) in its latest report.
Fifty of the deaths were reported from the Bicol region while 11 from the Eastern Visayas region.
The agency's report also indicated there are still 18 people missing in both regions.
The NDRRMC said its offices in the affected regions "are still on alert and are continuously monitoring the on-going response in the affected areas."
Moreover, the agency said that rescuers from the military, the police and other government agencies are now conducting search, rescue and retrieval operations in areas in the northern and central Philippines.
More than 79,000 people from 150 areas in the Philippines have been affected by landslides and widespread flooding, according to the disaster agency.
Aside from strong winds and heavy rains, areas ravaged by the tropical depression experienced power outages. Several houses are buried in landslides and roads sections were impassable due to severe flooding.
The agency floated the possibility that the death toll could increase as retrieval operations continue.
The Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development has provided the evacuees with family food packs and other relief goods. The agency also has standby emergency-relief funds worth around 212 million pesos (nearly 4 million U.S. dollars).
The country's national weather bureau earlier warned heavy rains may pour over the northern and central Philippines brought on by the tropical depression, which has already weakened into a low-pressure area after making landfall in Eastern Samar in the central Philippines on Saturday.
Although the low-pressure area already left the Philippines on Sunday, the national weather bureau warned that more rain is expected in the coming days.