Manila appeals for world help after deadly flooding


Tue, Sep 29, 2009 - Page 6

Overwhelmed Philippine authorities appealed for international aid yesterday as the death toll from once-in-a-lifetime floods soared to 140 and weary survivors sheltered in squalid conditions.

Two days after the horror storm sent torrents of water through the nation’s capital Manila and surrounding provinces, the government conceded it was unable to deal with the disaster on its own and needed urgent help.

“We are appealing for international humanitarian assistance,” Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said in a briefing on TV. “The potential for a more serious situation is there and we cannot wait for

that to happen.”

Rescue workers struggled through knee-deep mud and putrid water yesterday in a desperate effort to help nearly half a million people displaced by devastating floods, as the death toll rose.

Reaching people still stranded after Saturday’s disaster in Manila and surrounding areas, preventing disease outbreaks and getting aid to survivors were all big concerns, authorities said.

“We are concentrating on massive relief operations. [But] the system is overwhelmed, local government units are overwhelmed,” the head of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, Anthony Golez, told reporters.

“We were used to helping one city, one or two provinces, but now they are following one after another. Our assets and people are spread too thinly,” he said.

The death toll from the flooding climbed to 140, with 32 people still missing, the government said in its latest update yesterday afternoon. Another 451,000 had been forced out of their homes with 115,000 in evacuation centers. Soldiers, police, medics and a huge number of volunteers were involved in the effort to help flood victims, authorities said.

Saturday’s disaster saw Tropical Storm Ketsana pound the heaviest rain in more than 40 years on Manila and neighboring areas of Luzon island.

The nine-hour deluge left some areas of Metro Manila, a sprawling city of 12 million people, under 6m of water, with poor drainage systems and other failed infrastructure exacerbating the problem.

Eighty percent of the city was submerged and, with parts of Manila remaining underwater yesterday, local TV reported that some people remained stranded on the second floors of their homes.

Vast areas where flooding had subsided also remained covered in knee-deep sludge.

Meanwhile, there were fears the number of dead could soar past the official tally.

Radio station DZBB quoted local officials as saying that 58 more bodies had been recovered from a flooded area in the Manila suburb of Marikina, and that they had not yet been included in the official tally.