Philippines sends coffins as toll nears 1,000 dead

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ILIGAN, Philippines (AP) -- The Philippine government has shipped more than 400 coffins to two southern flood-stricken cities as the death toll neared 1,000. President Benigno Aquino III declared a state of national calamity.

The latest count Tuesday listed 957 dead and 49 missing and is set to climb further as additional bodies are being 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. Navy sailors in Manila loaded a ship with 437 white, wooden coffins to help local authorities handle the staggering number of dead.

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

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