'He saved us, and then he was gone'

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

18-year-old rescues 30 people in Manila floods, then disappears in torrent

When the river near his Manila home burst its banks, Muelmar Luz Magallanes tied a rope around his waist and ferried his three younger siblings to safety. Then he went back for his parents, then for his neighbours, trapped on rooftops. Finally, Mr Magallanes rescued a six-month-old baby who was being swept away on a polystyrene box. But the young man paid for his heroic deeds with his life.

As the Philippines appealed for international aid yesterday, with the death toll from Tropical Storm Ketsana and devastating floods rising to 140, Mr Magallanes' family mourned their courageous son.

The 18-year-old construction worker saved more than 30 lives, including that of the baby and her mother, Menchie Penalosa. "He gave his life for my baby. I will never forget his sacrifice," said Mrs Penalosa.

With dozens of people still missing in Manila and nearby Rizal province, and nearly half a million displaced, authorities warned that a new storm expected to strike this week might add to the country's woes.

Last weekend's storm unleashed the heaviest rains for more than four decades on the Philippine capital and surrounding areas. Yesterday emergency workers struggled through knee-deep mud and putrid water in a desperate effort to help people still stranded.

Among those saved was Christine Reyes, a popular Philippine actress, who was marooned on a rooftop with her mother and two young children as the floodwaters rose.

In an ending worthy of one of her movies, Reye's rescuer was Richard Gutierrez, a film and TV heart-throb who borrowed an army speedboat and whisked her to safety.

The story – which is already being retold endlessly by movie-besotted Filipinos – began when Reyes, trapped by Ketsana, used her mobile phone to call a television station to make a frantic plea for help. "If the rains do not stop, the water will reach the roof," she said, weeping. "We do not know what to do. My mother doesn't know how to swim."

Gutierrez, a close friend and Reyes's co-star in an upcoming film, sped to the rescue. "We couldn't go fast because of the strong current and floating cars," he said yesterday. On reaching her house, he struggled to tie the boat to a tree amid the churning waters, then climbed up to the roof. Reyes said: "I thought it was our ending, but I did not lose hope." But Magallanes' story ended tragically after the young man, a strong swimmer, dived into the churning, debris-strewn waters time and again to help his neighbours in their riverside village. Mrs Penalosa and her baby were engulfed by the tide as they clung to a polystyrene box. "I didn't know the current was so strong," she said. Mrs Penalosa was sure she and her baby were going to die. "Then this man came from nowhere and grabbed us," she said. "He took us to where the other neighbours were, and then he was gone." Witnesses said that Mr Magallanes, by then exhausted, was simply swept away.

Saturday's storm dumped nearly 17 inches of rain in just 12 hours, inundating tens of thousands of houses and forcing residents to seek refuge in schools, churches and evacuation shelters. It also set off landslides that proved deadly. The extent of the destruction became clear yesterday as the floodwaters receded, leaving behind villages covered in mud and communities without water, food or power. In one Manila suburb, a sofa hung from overhead power wires.

Suggested Topics

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
videoWatch Lynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage

Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 pose for Children in Need 2001
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution

Review: Witty banalities aside, the comedian has an authentic voice

Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

HLTA - Higher Level Teaching Assistant

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Science Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Science teacher requi...

Deputy Head of Science

£36000 - £60000 per annum: Randstad Education Southampton: Our client are a we...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London