Lack of food, water and medicine affects elderly and sick, says Red Cross
he said. The official death toll is 19 civilians, 17 soldiers, three police and 65 militants.
It is almost certain to rise. A police commando said he suspected the still off-limits public market was full of dead bodies.
“The area smells bad,” said commando Hamid Balimbingan.
“We can’t penetrate the area and that’s why we’re using helicopter gunships on them (gunmen).”
Those trapped are in danger of being hit by rockets or getting caught in the crossfire of the battles, while a lack of electricity, water, food and medical care could be just as deadly, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
“It really is a terrible situation,” ICRC’s deputy head of the Philippine delegation, Martin Thalmann, said here.
“Sick people have already died because they couldn’t get out. There are elderly in there.”
The military campaign involves dangerous house-to-house combat with the gunmen using sniper structural damage from flood inundation and landslides.
Water Supply Minister Rauf Hakeem said 40 per cent of those affected did not have access to piped drinking water, and there was an urgent need to clean contaminated wells.
The military has deployed more troops to the thousands involved in distributing food and other essentials to flood victims in the districts of Kalutara, Ratnapura, Galle and Matara.
The disaster centre said weath- fire to deadly effect from key structures and buildings.
Helicopters also fly regularly over the areas being held by the militants and fire rockets, even with civilians known to be in nearby buildings.
Since the fighting began, neighbouring towns and cities have been swamped with fleeing Marawi residents.
At multiple checkpoints outside of the city, there were long lines while security forces cross- er was expected to improve yesterday.
Sri Lanka has sought international assistance, with India sending two naval ships laden with supplies over the weekend.
A third ship was expected later yesterday, officials said.
The United Nations said it would donate water containers, water purification tablets and tarpaulins while the World Health Organisation will support medical teams in affected areas. checked residents’ faces against the mug shots of known terror suspects printed on large posters.
“We are angry at them,” mother-of-six Sunay Macudin, 28, said, referring to the militants as she and her children and her elderly grandmother sat on the floor of a gymnasium-turnedemergency shelter in nearby Pantar town.
“This would not have happened to us if the gunmen had not come to our village.”
Another Muslim resident expressed bewilderment at the reported goals of the gunmen: imposing a brutal form of rule such as that seen by IS in Iraq and Syria, with anyone not sharing their ideology regarded as the enemy.
In the latest development on the city-turned-battlefield here, authorities yesterday warned militants to surrender or die.