Recent floods have killed 54 people and left 19 missing in the central and southern Philippines , local officials said on January 18.

Floods triggered by prolonged downpours since late December, 2010 have submerged many areas in the Philippines , affecting the lives of almost 1.6 million residents in the central and southern regions, with 93,000 people forced to evacuate.

More than 500,000 of the affected people have received assistance from the government.

Heavy rains are forecast for areas across the Philippines in the days to come, worsening the risks of floods and landslides, especially in the eastern region.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on January 18 that at least 20 people were reported missing after a fishing boat sank off the country’s coast due to strong winds and large waves.

A PCG spokesman said the ship FB Jonathan 1, with 35 sailors aboard, capsized approximately five nautical miles southeast of Canaron Island , Linapakan, while heading to Canaron island from Manamoc island.

Only 15 seamen were rescued, while search and rescue operations are ongoing for 20 others./.