Philippines flood
Soldiers carry a coffin containing the body of a Typhoon Washi victim during a mass burial in a cemetery in Iligan city, southern Philippines REUTERS

Hundreds are still missing and around 1,000 are dead after once-in-a-lifetime floods hit the Philippines' southern island of Mindanao over the weekend.

The floods and mudslides came after the island was pounded by a torrential typhoon on Friday.

So many bodies floated today and were retrieved, especially off Cagayan de Oro, Benito Ramos, from the office of civil defense, told The Guardian. We've lost count of the missing.

The first priority has been the recovery and burial of all the bodies, primarily for sanitary reasons. By Monday, the city of Iligan had run out of coffins and room at morgues, forcing people to stack bodies outside of hospitals and to bury family members in plastic bags.

On Tuesday, the Philippine government shipped more than 400 coffins to Ilagan and Cagayan de Oro. Additionally, with graveyards filling, soldiers and aid workers have begun to stack coffins on top of one another and to place multiple people within the same tombs.

The mass burial is not just dumping them in a pit. We are building an apartment-type (mausoleum) with individual compartments. We can't just put them in all together, Cagayan de Oro city council member Alvin Bakal told Agence France Presse (AFP).

It is not like digging a hole and sticking them in there. They are being given apartment-style compartments, and I think it's pretty decent, Iligan Mayor Lawrence Cruz told AFP.

While the dead are of great concern, so are the living. The storm and flooding affected more than 300,000 people, and tens of thousands of people remain homeless while another 40,000 currently live in evacuation centers, gymnasiums, schools and churches, according to Reuters.

I assure you the government will help you rebuild your homes. But in return we expect you to refrain from moving back to those places that put your lives at constant risk, President Benigno Aquino said in a speech at an evacuation center.

The storm also damaged 15 million pesos ($340,000) worth of crops, but the effects were minimalized because corn and rice crops were in their early planting stages, Reuters reported.

The Philippine government is looking for immediate, low-interest loans to help with the rescue and rebuilding process and will receive $3 million from the Asian Development Bank and about $500 million from the World Bank.

Still, many on Mindanao ask why the country, which is prone to such disasters, didn't have a bigger fund set aside already. Others question why there was no national warning, which could have prevented a significant number of deaths.

I do not accept that everything had been done. I know that we can do more. We must determine what really happened, Aquino said in a separate speech.

Must this end in tragedy? We knew that [the storm] was coming. There should have been efforts to avoid the destruction.

We have no desire to engage in finger-pointing or to assign blame at a time like this. Yet, we have an obligation to find out exactly what has happened, Aquino added.