Floods kill more than 100 in Philippines

Government appeals for international aid after worst deluge in four decades
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The Independent Online

Rescuers plucked bodies from muddy floodwaters and saved drenched survivors from rooftops yesterday after a tropical storm tore through the northern Philippines and left at least 106 people dead and missing.

It was the region's worst flooding in more than four decades. A "state of calamity" was declared in metropolitan Manila and 25 storm-hit provinces and government appealed for international aid

Tropical Storm Ketsana roared across the northern Philippines on Saturday, packing winds of 63 mph dumping more than a month's worth of rain in just 12 hours. The resulting landslides and flooding have left at least 83 people dead and 23 others missing, Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said. Many parts of the capital remained flooded yesterday. TV footage shot from a military helicopter showed drenched survivors still marooned on top of half-submerged passenger buses and rooftops in the suburbs of Manila. Some dangerously clung on high-voltage power lines while others plodded through waist-high flood waters.

Mr Teodoro said that so far army troops, police and civilian volunteers had rescued more than 5,100 people.

More than 330,000 people were affected by storm, including some 59,000 people who were brought to about 100 schools, churches and other evacuation shelters, officials said.

Many residents lost all their belongings in the storm, but were thankful they were alive. "We're back to zero," said Ronald Manlangit. Mud covered everything – cars, the road and vegetables in a public market near his house.

Governor Joselito Mendoza of Bulacan province, north of the capital, said it was tragic that "people drowned in their own houses" as the storm raged.

A soldier and four militiamen were among the dead, drowned while trying to rescue villagers. In the city of Marikina near Manila, a rescuer gingerly lifted the mud-covered body of a child from a boat.

Rescuers carried away four other bodies, including that of a woman found in a church. Ketsana, which hit land early Saturday then roared across the main northern Luzon island toward the South China Sea, swamped entire towns, set off landslides and shut down Manila's airport for several hours.

The 42.4cm of rain that swamped metropolitan Manila in just 12 hours on Saturday exceeded the 39.2cm average for all of September, according to the chief government weather forecaster, Nathaniel Cruz. The previous record for the amount of rainfall in a 24-hour period dating from June 1967, when 33.4 cm fell, was overtaken.

Garbage-choked drains and waterways, along with high tide, compounded the problem, officials said.