Sat, Aug 24, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Thousands in Philippines remain in shelters

AFP, Manila

An estimated 600,000 people in the Philippines remained at temporary shelters or with relatives after days of heavy rain that killed 20, officials said yesterday.

A day after floods ebbed in the capital Manila, stagnant pools of water and high tides in coastal areas prolonged the misery in the central Luzon plains to the north, civil defense official Josefina Timoteo said.

“These are mainly farmers and fisher folk who still cannot return to their homes or resume work. We are still supplying their needs,” said Timoteo, the civil defense head for the region.

“These are low-lying regions and this happens every year. It is a way of life for many of them and the local governments are well-organized to provide relief,” she said.

Seasonal monsoons dumped more than a month’s rain in Manila and surrounding provinces between Sunday last week and Wednesday, the state weather service said, submerging about half the capital in floodwaters.

The rains were worsened by Tropical Storm Trami, which hit China on Thursday after hovering off the northern Philippines and passing north of Taiwan earlier in the week.

The government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said 200,000 people were still in government-run shelters yesterday, with 400,000 others staying with friends or relatives and likewise receiving food rations and other emergency aid.

The council raised the death toll to 20 as receding floodwaters led to the discovery of two bodies in Cavite Province, south of Manila.

Most of those who have yet to return home are from the central Luzon region, where 481 villages remain under floodwaters up to 1m deep, Timoteo said.

The weather is improving, but the evacuation centers, mostly schoolbuildings, are expected to start emptying only next week. As a result, classes are still suspended in those areas, she said.

The health department has stocked up medicines at evacuation camps to prevent the spread of epidemics, she said, adding there had been no reports of widespread diseases.

The floods wreaked 97.3 billion pesos (US$2.2 billion) worth of damage to infrastructure and crops, the government says.

The Philippines endures about 20 major storms or typhoons annually, generally in the second half of the year, and many of them deadly.

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