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Coffins sent to flood-stricken Philippines cities as toll nears 1,000

Aaron Favila / AP

Philippine Navy personnel arrange coffins that will be shipped with drinking water, clothes and other relief goods to flood-stricken Cagayan De Oro and Iligan cities on board a navy ship in Manila, Philippines on Dec. 20, 2011.

Rolex Dela Pena / EPA

Philippine Navy personnel carry donated caskets to be transported by a Navy ship to flood affected provinces from military headquarters in Manila on Dec. 20, 2011.

Erik De Castro / Reuters

Unidentified typhoon victims, inside coffins and body bags, lie near a road awaiting identification by their relatives near Iligan city on Dec. 20, 2011.

The Associated Press reports from ILIGAN, Philippines:

The government shipped more than 400 coffins to two flood-stricken cities in the southern Philippines on Tuesday as the death toll neared 1,000 and President Benigno Aquino III declared a state of national calamity.

The latest count listed 957 dead and 49 missing and is expected to climb further as additional bodies are recovered from the sea and mud in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro cities.

A handful of morgues are overwhelmed and running out of coffins and formaldehyde for embalming. Aid workers appealed for bottled water, blankets, tents and clothes for many of 45,000 in crowded evacuation centers.

Navy sailors in Manila loaded a ship with 437 white wooden coffins to help local authorities handle the staggering number of dead. Also on the way were containers with thousands of water bottles.

Most of the dead were women and children who drowned Friday night when flash floods triggered by a tropical storm gushed into homes while people were asleep. Continue reading.

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