MANILA, Philippines, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- The flooding and landslide disaster in the Philippines set off by weeks of rains showed no signs of easing as the death toll and damage mounted, officials said.
The widespread havoc has so far killed at least 51 people and affected an estimated 1.5 million people in the country as weeks of bad weather continued, the Philippine Examiner reported, quoting emergency relief authorities.
The report also quoted Civil Defense administrator Benito Ramos as saying 16 fishermen were missing after their boasts capsized in stormy seas off the country's coast. That raised to 20 the number of people reported missing so far.
Ramos said a rescue mission had been dispatched to look for the missing fishermen.
The bad weather also has affected air travel with several domestic flights canceled or diverted.
The Examiner said weather forecasters see no immediate relief from the bad weather aggravated by a cold front and that the rains could continue off and on until March.
At least 25 provinces have been hit, with the worst affected regions being Southern Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.
The Manila Bulletin reported the department of science and atmospheric geophysical and astronomical services planned to set up early warning devices to warn against landslides, the first such in the country. Officials said they want to prevent a tragedy similar to the recent mudslide in Brazil in which more than 500 people died.
The government has brought in its military to assist in relief efforts, including delivering food and other essential items, and air force helicopters were aiding in evacuation operations.
CNN quoting disaster agency officials that the ages of those killed ranged from 1 to 80 and that they drowned, electrocuted or were killed in landslides.