News Column

Relief Rushed to 800,000 Displaced Filipinos

Aug. 8, 2012

Philippine authorities on Wednesday rushed relief goods to nearly 800,000 people displaced by massive floods triggered by days of heavy rains in the capital and surrounding provinces, killing 21 people.

Floods were receding in most parts of Manila, but some areas in the suburbs and northern provinces remained inundated despite improving weather.

Rescue teams were also trying to reach those still stranded by the floods.

"We're still in rescue mode," said Benito Ramos, heads of the Office of Civil Defence (OCD), which oversees disaster relief efforts. "Floods are receding in many areas but people are still trapped on their roofs."

The deluge, the worst since 2009 when flash floods killed hundreds in Manila, forced 242,211 residents to flee to evacuation centres in the capital and 11 provinces, while 607,941 people had taken refuge with relatives and friends, the OCD said.

Floodwaters reached 6 metres in some areas on Tuesday, turning parts of Manila into a "water world," Ramos said.

Work in many government and private offices resumed Wednesday after being suspended the previous day, but schools were still closed with some used as evacuation centres. The Philippine Stock Exchange also restarted trading.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said government workers needed to report to their offices to accelerate relief and rehabilitation efforts.

"Goods and services must resume so as to speed up the repair of damaged infrastructure, the circulation of goods and supplies throughout the metropolitan area and other affected regions," he said in a statement.

Lacierda urged the public to be on guard as they return to work: "Continue to remain vigilant, and aware of alerts and advisories from the authorities, concerning the weather."

Nine of the casualties were killed Tuesday in a landslide that buried three houses in a village in the Manila suburb of Quezon City, the OCD said. Ten drowned in floods and swollen rivers, and two were electrocuted, according to police and local authorities.

Four people were also injured in the landslide, the OCD added.

Rains caused by the south-west monsoon have pounded the northern Philippines since late Sunday. The weather bureau said the monsoon was enhanced by Typhoon Haikui, which made landfall in southern China early Wednesday.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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