'He saved us, and then he was gone' - Asia - World - The Independent

'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
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Programme Test Manager

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush, London

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush...

Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Full time German Supply Teacher...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week