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Philippines flood victims, children want schools
by Staff Writers
Cagayan De Oro, Philippines (AFP) Jan 4, 2012

Flood evacuees and pupils competed for space in southern Philippine schools Wednesday, with both wanting to use the buildings following the Christmas break, officials said.

In some cases, survivors of last month's floods from Tropical Storm Washi were moved to alternative shelters as children returned to schoolhouses that had been used as evacuation centres.

But in other instances, hundreds of the evacuees refused to leave, forcing school officials to find novel ways of conducting classes.

In one school in Cagayan de Oro, it was the students who had to move to tents because the storm victims refused to vacate their classrooms, said district school official Shirley Merida.

"We will have to hold these sessions inside the tents since all of our classrooms still have evacuees living in them. We cannot just drive them away," she said.

Merida, who is in charge of five schools, said the situation was worse in other locations.

"I still do not know how to open two schools since these are still full of waist-deep mud," she said.

Washi caused flash floods and overflowing rivers from December 16-18 that killed almost 1,260 people and displaced more than 429,000, with nearly 37,300 still in makeshift evacuation centres.

The government, international and local charities have been working to provide new shelters for the displaced but it will take months before permanent shelters are finished.

Thousands of people can no longer return home as the government has said the sites of their old communities were too vulnerable to flooding.


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