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Monday, September 28, 2009

95 dead, five bodies recovered in Marikina

At least 95 people are dead in the Philippines after a tropical storm swept through the main island of Luzon yesterday, the government said, as the country’s Red Cross warned the death toll could reach “several hundreds.”

The toll will probably rise as waters recede and bodies are discovered, said Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross.

“Now that the sun has risen, we found five bodies in several seconds” in Marikina, northern Manila, Gordon said in a telephone interview today. “A lot of people are lost out there,” including landslide victims and fishermen who were at sea when the storm hit. At least 24 people have been reported missing, the government said.

Floods forced thousands to flee their homes, seek refuge in upper floors or await rescue on their roofs after the storm dumped record amounts of rain. Television channels broadcast footage of people wading through chest-deep water surging through city streets and people clambering on top of submerged cars to escape the floods. Even SUVs were swept away by the torrent of floodwater.

“We were all totally caught unprepared, this was supposed to be a small typhoon,” Gordon said, adding the government was “caught with its pants down.”

There was “hardly any distribution of forces” and “very little announcement about the overspill of water” from at least one dam, worsening the plight of nearby residents, Gordon added.

Philippines Storm Death Toll at 95, May Be ‘Hundreds’
Bloomberg
By Francisco Alcuaz Jr. and Cecilia Yap

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