Governor reports 82 fatalities in Rizal province
Aerial view of a flooded portion of Marcos Highway in Marikina City, September 27, 2009. ABS-CBN News/Jeff Canoy
MANILA - The death toll from the onslaught of Tropical Storm Ondoy (international code name Ketsana) continued to rise and has reached more than 100 as rescuers reach submerged areas, according to various reports Sunday evening.
The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), in its latest report at 6 p.m., said the number of fatalities has reached 73.
This however did not include the additional 40 casualties reported by Rizal Gov. Casimiro Ynares III in a radio dzMM interview later Sunday evening. He said the death toll in the province, which was one of the hardest hit by “Ondok” has reached 82. NDCC in its 6 p.m. report has only reported 42 casualties in the province.
Ynares also said that 45 persons were still missing in the province which would increase the NDCC count to 48.
27 were also reported to have drowned in Quezon City, according to a report by the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Station 6. NDCC, in its 6 p.m. report accounted for only 2 casualties in the city.
18 bodies have also been recovered in Provident Village in Marikina City. In the NDCC report, only 1 casualty has been reported in the city.
The bodies of 6 soldiers and militiamen meanhwile were recovered while another was still missing after they were swept by raging currents while conducting rescue operations in Laguna province.
The NDCC also said that 5,594 people have been rescued in areas hit by the storm that has affected 337,216 persons.
Nearly 60,000 people were already evacuated to at least 118 centers.
The NDCC said that 4 other persons (aside from the 2 in QC and 1 in Marikina) died in NCR, 1 from the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), 2 more from Region IV-A (aside from the casualties in Rizal), and 21 from Region III.
Among those reported dead in Central Luzon were 12 who were found dead after a landslide hit Arayat town in Pampanga.
Calaca town in Batangas, Calauag town in Quezon, and Kabugao town in Apayao, meanwhile, reported one dead each in the NDCC report.
Meanwhile, 4 have been reported injured in the NDCC bulletin.
The NDCC said 337,216 people were affected by the storm in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga, batangas, Laguna, Rizal, and Camarines Sur, or a total of 69, 513 families. The partial total of evacuees has reached 11,967 families, or 59,521 people, located in 118 evacuation centers.
State of National Calamity
A state of national calamity has been declared over 27 provinces in 7 regions, as well as in the NCR.
The provinces included are Mountain Province, Ifugao, and Benguet (CAR); Pangasinan, La Union, and Ilocos Sur (Region I); Isabela, Quirino, and Nueva Vizcaya (Region II); Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac, and Bataan (Region III); Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon (Region IV-A); Mindoro Occidental, Mindoro Oriental, and Marinduque (Region IV-B); and Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, and Camarines Sur (Region V).
Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro has issued an NDCC Circular to chairpersons of Regional Disaster Coordinating Councils in Regions I, II, III, and CAR, directing them to "undertake necessary response measures" to avoid loss of lives and destruction of property.
Slideshow: Aftermath of tropical storm Ondoy
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‘One month’s worth of rain’
Ondoy, with winds of 85 kilometers per hour and gusts of 100 kph, hit the provinces of Aurora and Quezon at around 11 a.m. Saturday, then moved through Central Luzon at 19 kph, the state weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services (PAGASA) said.
PAGASA weather forecaster Gener Quitlong said the equivalent of one month’s worth of rain fell on Metro Manila in less than a day.
“We knew there would be rain but not like this,” Quitlong said.
About 34.1 centimeters of rain fell on Metro Manila in just six hours, close to the 39.2-centimeter average for the entire month of September.
The previous record was 33.4 centimeters recorded during a 24-hour period in June 1967, according to PAGASA chief Nathaniel Cruz.
“However good your drainage system is, it will be overwhelmed by that amount of rainfall,” he said.
The deluge left some areas of the sprawling city of 12 million people under up to six meters (20 feet) of water, forcing the government to declare a "state of calamity" that allowed authorities to use emergency funds.
As of Sunday morning, the floods have subsided in many areas, but a number of areas, particularly in Marikina, Pasig, the Camanava area, and parts of Manila and Quezon City, are still under water.
As of 11 a.m., the tropical storm has moved on to the South China Sea.
Roads turn to raging rivers
Desperate residents were stranded on rooftops after the nine-hour deluge on Saturday turned Manila's highways into raging rivers that swept away shanties and cars.
"This is the worst (flooding) that I have seen," Teodoro said.
More than 4,000 people have been rescued, either plucked by army helicopters from their homes or by rubber boats but many remained stranded on Sunday afternoon.
"If you are on the roof, don't try to leave. Just remain there and we will do everything to rescue you," Teodoro said in a radio broadcast.
In suburban Pasig city however, panicked residents were seen wading dangerously through neck-deep waters hoisting their children and belongings above their heads.
Amid the chaos, hospitals in the eastern part of the city were evacuated, while telephone and power lines were cut, officials said.
One of Manila’s three airport terminals was also closed on Saturday, affecting several flights and stranding hundreds of passengers.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, speaking on dzMM on Sunday morning, advised the public to stay calm and obey the instructions of local government executives and civil defense authorities.
"We shall manage our way out of this latest natural calamity. Let us band together and look out for each other in the finest Filipino tradition of caring and sharing," she said.
On Saturday, Arroyo visited Marikina City, one of the badly-flooded areas in Metro Manila, where at least 1,000 people were reported trapped on rooftops.
Arroyo also visited the rescue operations in Pasig City, Cainta as well as visited Arayat, Pampanga where 12 died due to a landslide.
'80% under water'
Teodoro said the floodwaters and the large numbers of stranded vehicles blocking roads gave rescuers "a hard time" as they sought to reach those affected.
While the rains had temporarily ceased Sunday, he said more flooding may hit northern provinces if reservoirs burst their banks.
Philippine Red Cross chairwoman Gwendolyn Pang said rescuers were struggling to reach many areas, with many highways rendered impassable.
"This has never happened before. Almost 80 percent of metropolitan Manila is underwater," Pang told AFP.
In the district of Marikina, one of the worst-hit areas, rescuers waded in muddy floodwaters to reach the stranded, Red Cross official Dave Barnuevo said.
"The water is taking a long time to go down. The water is muddy and thick, and we have had to push our rubber boats in neck-deep flood (waters) in some areas," Barnuevo told AFP.
"We have rescued entire families marooned in their homes. They have not eaten and begged for food and water."
Flights resume, schools closed
The government appealed for international aid to help tens of thousands marooned by flashfloods, and apologized for the delays in rescue efforts to avoid potential political fallout from the crisis.
"We're doing our best to get to all those people still trapped by the flashflood," Anthony Golez, spokesman for NDCC, told reporters, adding soldiers in rubber boats would evacuate them to safety.
"We're sorry for the delays. We're encountering difficulty in reaching flooded areas.
Hundreds remained on rooftops, waving and shouting for food, water and warm clothes as floodwaters began to subside in and around Manila on Sunday.
Television images showed several houses and cars being swept by swollen rivers and clusters of people on the roofs of their homes. Army and civilian helicopters were seen dropping food and relief goods.
The government has been criticized for its handling of the crisis and dozens of angry people called radio stations to appeal for help and blame state agencies for lack of preparation.
"This will have a big political impact on the government," Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, told Reuters, adding it could further sink the popularity of the administration.
"People are wondering how the government spent its budget for flood control projects. The government was caught unprepared by the heavy rain brought by the typhoon."
"We're appealing for more donations of food, water and warm clothes," Teodoro said, adding the United States and U.N. agencies had responded with boats, food, water and relief goods.
Schools will be closed on Monday because most of them are being used as temporary shelters for more than 5,000 displaced families.
Airport operations returned to normal and power supply was slowly being restored. With reports from the Agence France-Presse, The Philippine Star, dzMM, and ABS-CBN News