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Manila appeals for flood aid for millions
Government calls for help in rushing food, water and clothes to nearly two million people displaced by deadly floods.
Last Modified: 09 Aug 2012 13:21

Philippine authorities have appealed for help in getting relief to nearly two million people affected by deadly floods in and around the capital, Manila, warning that evacuation centres were overwhelmed.

After more than a month's worth of rain was dumped on Manila in 48 hours, entire districts remained submerged on Thursday although overflowing rivers had started to recede and neck-high waters seen earlier were typically down to knee-deep.

The state weather service also dropped its rain warning on Thursday afternoon for the sprawling city of 15 million people.

Disaster chiefs said the top priority was to help the 1.95 million people affected by the floods, as masses flocked to evacuation centres in search of food, water, medicine, clothes and dry place to sleep.

"We are repacking a lot of relief items, we need more help and are asking for more volunteers," Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman told AFP news agency.

"We have the food but we need to pack them, deliver and distribute them in this massive operation."

Soliman said many evacuation centres were not able to provide much-needed warm meals to the growing number of displaced.

"Most local government units do a community kitchen, but the volume of evacuees is so big that they have been overwhelmed. We are also appealing for more medicines, blankets, mats and, more importantly, dry clothes," she said.

Holding on

The number of people in schools, gymnasiums and other buildings that had been turned into evacuation centres rose to 293,000 on Thursday, from 150,000 on Wednesday, according to the government's disaster management council.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of others were left largely to fend for themselves, seeking refuge with friends and relatives, or staying in partly submerged homes.

In the riverside district of Marikina, where massive squatter communities were inundated, some residents returned to their homes on Wednesday night only for another deluge to hit a few hours later and cause another flood spike.

"Last night many came back, but when the alarm rang at 3am they had to evacuate again," said Colonel Perfecto Penaredondo, chief military aide at the civil defence office.

One of those forced to evacuate once more, housewife Alona Geronimo, told the AFP she and her neighbours were exhausted and feeling hopeless.

"We were cleaning our house yesterday when the water rose again. No one has caught a wink of sleep here. If we fall asleep, we might die," Geronimo said as she huddled with 13 other people under a grey tarpaulin.

Geronimo said she had not been able to save anything in the floods.

"We have just the clothes on our backs. It was just like Ondoy," she said, referring to a tropical storm in 2009 known as Ketsana in English that submerged 80 per cent of Manila and killed 464 people.

Twenty people have died from this week's rains in Manila and nearby provinces, according to authorities.

The deluge came after nearly two weeks of monsoon rains, compounded by a typhoon and tropical storm, that have left 73 people dead across the Philippines.

The Southeast Asian archipelago endures about 20 major storms or typhoons each rainy season, many of which are deadly.

This week's rains were the worst to hit Manila since 2009 storm.

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Source:
Agencies
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