Philippine struggles in wake of killer typhoon

Slum dwellers in the Philippine capital rummaged through their flattened homes Thursday as villagers on remote farms battled floods, two days after a monster typhoon killed at least 35 people.

By (AFP)

Published: Thu 29 Sep 2011, 11:17 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 2:07 AM

Authorities warned the death toll from Typhoon Nesat would continue to climb, with 45 people still missing and more accidents likely as tens of thousands of people struggled with the storm’s aftermath.

“Rescuers are using rubber boats and canoes to help those in areas still flooded,” Office of Civil Defense chief Benito Ramos told AFP.

“Many are marooned on rooftops, mostly menfolk who refused to join preemptive evacuations so they could guard their homes.”

Ramos said many of the missing were fishermen who set sail ahead of the storm despite warnings to remain on land.

“We are just praying that we will find them still alive, but realistically speaking, the number of deaths may still rise,” he said.

The Philippines endures an average of 20 storms annually, many of them deadly, but Nesat was one of the worst for the year largely due to an enormous rain band that pummelled virtually all of the main island of Luzon.

Nesat was approaching southern China on Thursday, forcing Hong Kong authorities to order a lockdown in the Chinese territory with the closure of financial markets, schools and transport services.

Manila was similarly brought to a standstill on Tuesday as rain flooded large parts of the Philippine capital and storm surges smashed sea walls protecting the city’s historic bayside area.

Residents in slums along Manila Bay continued to pick through rubble in a struggle to rebuild on Thursday, and officials said it would take many days to clear fallen trees, billboards and other debris across the city.

In Luzon’s vast agricultural plains that stretch hundreds of kilometres (miles) to the north of Manila, farmers struggled to deal with the destruction of rice that was primed for harvest.

Television news broadcasts showed aerial footage of high water covering large areas of the northern provinces of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga, where many of the country’s large rice producing plains are located.

Many of those areas remained without power or cut off because highways and farms had been turned into virtual rivers.

Some people remained stranded in their homes, and rescue workers on boats went to retrieve them, although others preferred to stay to guard their properties.

“The flood waters are going down, but very, very slowly, because much of these areas are flat, agricultural land,” Ramos said.

Nearly 170,000 people were inside evacuation centres across Luzon, according to the government’s disaster relief agency.

Amid the clean-up operations, the government warned another typhoon would likely hit the country within days.

Science Undersecretary Graciano Yumul, who supervises the state weather bureau, said a new storm was 1,300 kilometres (800 miles) away in the Pacific Ocean and building towards typhoon strength as it approached the Philippines.

“By Sunday we will be experiencing (more) rains and bad weather,” Yumul told reporters.

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