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Aid rushed to Philippine flood victims
by Staff Writers
Calumpit, Philippines (AFP) Oct 3, 2011

Philippine authorities rushed aid Monday to thousands of people marooned in their flooded homes for nearly a week after deadly typhoons, but said the worst appeared over with waters receding.

The subsiding water allowed relief workers to deliver food, medicine and dry clothes to families who had waited out the floods on their roofs and upper floors of their homes while being hit with back-to-back typhoons.

"We have no food to eat, and no clean drinking water," construction worker Orly Nabong told AFP as he joined hundreds of victims lining up for relief items on higher ground in Calumpit, one of the worst-hit towns.

"The water is slowly going down so we think we can wait it out, but we need supplies."

Nabong, 52, said adult members of his extended family remained on the second floor of their home, including his siblings, although the children had already been taken to an evacuation centre.

Calumpit, two hours' drive north of Manila, is part of Bulacan province, a flat farming region that was particularly hard hit by the heavy rains of typhoons Nesat and Nalgae.

Nalgae pummelled the Philippines' main Luzon island on Saturday, hitting many of the same areas that Nesat had torn through five days earlier.

Fifty-eight people have so far died in the two storms, and 28 remain missing, according to the civil defence office in Manila.

Another 360,000 people are either in evacuation centres or stranded in the flooded areas and in need of relief, the office said.

The Philippines endures about 20 major storms annually, but Nesat and Nalgae were among the most powerful this year with their massive rain bands covering most of Luzon, the country's main and most populous island.

At the height of Nesat's fury last week, authorities also released waters from dams which had reached critical levels, adding to the flooding.

The government had warned on Sunday that rains from Nalgae could stream down from mountain ranges north of the flood zones and lead to higher levels of water. But by Monday morning the threat had passed.

"The amount of rainfall from Nalgae wasn't enough to cause more flooding, although some areas will likely remain under water for some days," civil defence chief Benito Ramos told AFP.

Some towns have endured flooding nearly two storeys deep over the past week, although authorities said the worst of the waters on Monday were about chest high.

In Calumpit, residents waded through waist-deep floods to reach the makeshift command post where food was distributed in sacks and a water filtration system was set up.

"We need clean drinking water and perhaps purification tablets," said Cloie Cruz, 26, who left her parents and three siblings at dawn to fetch supplies.

Rescuers were also finally able to reach areas previously cut off by raging currents, allowing them to bring medicine or to ferry those needing medical attention to evacuation centres or clinics.

Calumpit mayor James de Jesus said there would likely be no more need to forcibly evacuate those in their homes as the water cleared.

"The most important thing now is to reach those who still need help," he told reporters.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino said he was trying to personally talk with top officials in the affected areas to ensure that relief efforts were speeded up.

"We have to repair the roads that were destroyed, we have to clear out the landslides and restore the electrical service and deliver fuel to these places," Aquino told reporters.

The United Nations' World Food Programme, meanwhile, said it was distributing 100 tonnes of high energy biscuits to augment government relief assistance.

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