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Philippine flood death toll rises

Written By vibykhmer on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 | 9:20 AM

Philippine flood death toll rises

Aerial view of flooding in Angono, east of Manila (29 September 2009)
Weather forecasters are predicting more heavy rain later in the week


The Philippines government says 246 people are now known to have died in severe flooding caused when Tropical Storm Ketsana struck on Saturday.

The country has appealed for foreign aid to deal with the disaster, which has displaced 450,000 people and left 380,000 living in makeshift shelters.

Public buildings including schools, universities and the presidential palace have become relief centres.

The storm has now hit Vietnam, where at least 22 people are said to have died.

The Vietnamese government earlier ordered the evacuation of more than 170,000 people as strong winds of up to 150km/h (93mph) and heavy rain began to affect the central coast.

Local media report that Ketsana, which has now strengthened into a typhoon, has caused flooding and power cuts. Vietnam Airlines has suspended all flights to the coastal cities of Danang and Hue.

Weather forecasters are predicting more heavy rain later this week, with a new storm forming in the Pacific likely to enter Philippine waters on Thursday, making landfall on the island of Luzon.

People reach out for emergency supplies in Cainta (28 September 2009)

Map showing the path of typhoon Ketsana

Fragile situation

"Evacuees will be given shelter in available areas among the Malacanang [palace] buildings and in tents that will be put up in between the buildings," Philippines President Arroyo said in a statement announcing the opening of the palace compound.

She said that if required, palace employees would "yield their work stations to provide more space for our displaced countrymen", and that she had temporarily moved her office to another section of the compound along the Pasig river.

After word of the offer spread, hundreds of people converged on the palace and received plastic bags filled with noodles and canned sardines.

"We just heard it in the news that they are giving relief goods at the palace so we walked for one hour," street sweeper Rosette Serrano, 31, told the AFP news agency.

Ms Serrano lost everything except her clothes when her house was submerged on Saturday.

But officials said people would not be permitted to remain inside the presidential compound unless they were first checked by aid organisations.

"We cannot just allow every evacuee in because of logistical and security problems," Wilfredo Oca, an aid to Mrs Arroyo, told AFP.

The sharp rise in the death toll - up 100 from the previous figure - came after more than 90 deaths were recorded in Manila, the National Disaster Co-ordinating Council said in a statement.

The toll is expected to rise further as thick mud is cleared from the worst affected parts of the city. Troops, police and volunteers have so far rescued more than 12,000 people.

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