Manila storm claims 106 lives

RESCUERS plucked bodies from muddy floodwaters and saved drenched survivors from rooftops yesterday after a tropical storm tore through the northern Philippines and left at least 106 people dead and missing.

It was the region’s worst flooding in more than four decades. The government declared a “state of calamity” in metropolitan Manila and 25 storm-hit provinces.

Tropical Storm Ketsana roared across the northern Philippines on Saturday, dumping more than a month’s worth of rain in just 12 hours. The resulting landslides and flooding have left at least 83 people dead and 23 others missing, Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said.

TV footage shot from military helicopter showed drenched survivors still marooned on half-submerged passenger buses and rooftops in the suburbs of Manila. Some dangerously clung on high-voltage power lines while others plodded through waist-high flood waters.

More than 330,000 people were affected by the storm, including some 59,000 people who were brought to 100 schools, churches and other evacuation shelters, officials said.

Teodoro said army troops, police and civilian volunteers have rescued more than 5,100 people.

“We’re back to zero,” said Marikina resident Ronald Manlangit. Still he expressed relief that he managed to move all his children to the second floor of his house Saturday as floodwaters engulfed the ground floor.

The most recently reported fatalities included nine people in Bulacan, most of them drowned. A landslide in northern Pampanga province killed 12 villagers. An army soldier and four militiamen drowned while trying to rescue villagers in southern Laguna province.

Distress calls and emails from residents in Manila and their worried relatives flooded TV and radio stations overnight. Ketsana swamped entire towns, set off landslides and shut down Manila’s airport for hours.


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