Disease Risk Rise After Philippine Typhoon

By Roli Ng 

REAL, Philippines (Reuters) - Flood waters receded in the Philippines on Friday in the wake of a typhoon that killed at least 35 people, but thousands more remained cut off from help, hungry and at risk of disease after a week of severe flooding. 

Soldiers buried nearly 100 people killed in landslides in northern Aurora province, as typhoon Nanmadol swept north toward Taiwan. 

The typhoon added to the misery of thousands in the northern Philippines made homeless by landslides and floods from other storms this week that have left more than 1,000 dead or 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. 

Logging has been blamed for exacerbating the weather disaster, which has forced more than 200,000 people from their homes. Many were running out of food and clean water and power was cut in some areas. "Our biggest enemy now is diarrhea, especially in areas where water and food are contaminated," health secretary Manuel Dayrit told radio. He urged people to bury their dead quickly. 

However officials said casualties from the latest storm appeared to be low because people were better prepared after three major storms in two weeks. 

A remote village was flattened on Monday night by mudslides that carried boulders and logs, but it took soldiers until Friday to bring relief because roads were cut by floodwaters and slips, said military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Buenaventura Pascual. 

"The first troops that reached a mountain village in Dingalan town on Friday morning started burying about 100 bodies they found," he told Reuters. 

TAIWAN IN PATH 

Nanmadol has moved into the South China Sea and was heading toward Taiwan, but its wind have slowed to 120 kph (75 mph) from 185 kph when it first hit the Philippines. Taiwan has been battered by a string of typhoons and tropical storms this year, but unseasonal Typhoon Nanmadol would be the first in 100 years to arrive in December. 

The Philippines' National Disaster Coordinating Council said 25 people had died in Aurora province, north of Manila. Disaster officials said there had been a landslide, but had no further details.

They said 10 died in Manila and surrounding provinces, mostly drowned or caught in landslides. 

At least 13 people were missing in northern Nueva Vizcaya province, although flood waters have now receded in most areas. 

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

Colonel Elma Aldea, an official at the National Disaster Coordinating Council, said the official death toll from floods and landslides in the Philippines stood at 407, but that was expected to rise. 

A military official said on Thursday 479 people were dead and 560 missing in just three towns in Quezon province that were devastated by a torrent of logs and mud on Monday. 

With helicopters grounded and roads cut, thousands of people have been sleeping in makeshift shelters and were short of food and drinking water. 

Floods and landslides regularly hit the archipelago of some 7,000 islands. In the worst recent disaster, more than 5,000 people died in floods triggered by a typhoon in southern Leyte island in 1991. 

The storm early this week and two that hit the north and center last month had caused an estimated 1.3 billion pesos ($23.3 million) in damage to crops, livestock and fisheries, the agriculture department said on Thursday. (Additional reporting by Dolly Aglay, Erik de Castro, Stuart Grudgings and Manny Mogato)

03/12/2004

Bron : Reuters.com

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