Philippine flood heightens disease risk

Flood waters have receded in the northern Philippines in the wake of a typhoon, but thousands of people remain hungry, cut off from help and at risk of disease after a week of severe flooding.

    Soldiers carry relief goods to victims in flood-hit towns

    At least eight people died when typhoon Nanmadol battered the main northern island of Luzon, adding to a toll of more than 1000 dead or missing after floods and landslides during the week, disaster officials said on Friday.

    According to the latest figures by the military, 712 bodies have been recovered and 332 are still missing.

    "We need one great heave to deliver the relief supplies, find the missing, rescue the isolated, feed the hungry and shelter the homeless," President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said in a statement on national television.

    More prepared

    Casualties from the typhoon appeared to be low because people were better prepared after three major storms in two weeks.

    "Despite the heavy rains ... we have few casualties," said Colonel Elma Aldea, an official at the National Disaster Coordinating Council.

    Health officials have warned of
    the spread of diarrhoea

    The NDCC said eight people died in Manila and surrounding provinces, mostly by drowning, although flood waters had receded in most provinces as the typhoon rains eased.

    Some areas were still without power after 13 transmission towers in Bicol province, east of Manila, were toppled by winds.

    The health secretary warned of the growing risk of disease, urging people to bury their dead quickly.

    Biggest enemy

    "Our biggest enemy now is diarrhoea, especially in areas where water and food are contaminated," Manuel Dayrit said.

    "With God's grace, we were saved"

    Survivor Carmelita Estrada

    Nanmadol had moved into the South China Sea and was heading towards Taiwan, but its wind speeds had fallen to 120kph from 185kph when it first hit the Philippines.

    More than 200,000 people have been forced to leave their homes.

    Illegal logging has been blamed for exacerbating the disaster in three towns in Quezon province, about 80km east of Manila.

    Makeshift shelters

    With helicopters grounded and roads cut, thousands of people spent the night in makeshift shelters and were running out of food and drinking water.

    Illegal logging has been blamed
    for exacerbating the disaster

    "With God's grace, we were saved," said Carmelita Estrada, 64, who spent the night huddled in a house with her seven children and their families in northern Nueva Ecija province.

    "But I was sorry to know that the some of our neighbours' houses, including that of my niece, were destroyed. My niece's house was in a bridge so it was washed out."

    Floods and landslides regularly hit the archipelago of some 7000 islands, sometimes causing huge loss of life. In the worst recent disaster, more than 5000 people died in floods triggered by a typhoon in southern Leyte island in 1991.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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