Philippines toll touches 140

Thousands still trapped in homes by floodwaters and storm

The National Disaster Coordinating Council raised the death toll from 86 on Monday afternoon, but officials of the provinces of Batangas and Rizal said there were at least 140 other fatalities. In Rizal Province alone, officials said, 82 residents had died.

The sun shone on Monday morning and many Filipinos were happy that their lives were slowly inching back to normal as the floodwaters caused by tropical storm Ketsana began to recede in some areas.

But in Pasig City, one of the hardest-hit Manila suburbs where the heavily silted and polluted Pasig River flows, the floodwater in many communities hardly decreased.
The disaster was the worst the capital had experienced in nearly half a century. Ketsana poured a month’s worth of rain onto Manila in just 12 hours, the government’s weather bureau said.

The Philippine government declared a “state of national calamity” in 27 provinces outside the capital. Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, who also heads the disaster agency, said in a briefing on Monday that the government would now concentrate on relief work, indicating that a major part of the rescue effort was now over.

“Right now we will concentrate really on providing food and other necessities,” Mr. Teodoro said, adding that Ketsana destroyed the homes of more than 435,000 residents in the capital and several provinces in the northern Philippines. More than 100,000 of those affected are now housed in roughly 200 evacuation centres.
The US Defence Department’s Joint Typhoon Warning Centre reported on Monday that the storm was moving westward across the South China Sea and would likely “intensify further to typhoon strength before it makes landfall” near the city of Hue, in central Vietnam.

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