Death toll rises to 60 as floods recedeBy Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The death toll from the torrential rains that pounded Metro Manila and nearby provinces early this week has risen to 60 while damage to crops in one region alone reached at least P1 billion, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Friday.
The death toll from the rains spawned by the southwest monsoon is higher than the 53 fatalities reported following the onslaught of Typhoon “Gener,” which exited the country last week.
NDRRMC executive director Benito Ramos said the southwest monsoon rains also affected 2,442,135 persons in 31 cities and 16 provinces from Ilocos in the north down to Western Visayas in the central Philippines.
In Central Luzon alone, the rains and the floods it caused damaged P1,095,515,193.47 worth of crops and livestock, the agency said.
“The number of casualties has ballooned because the floods are receding. We are beginning to find their bodies,” Ramos said.
Of the 60 fatalities, 11 died in landslides, 39 drowned, four were electrocuted, 2 died of cardiac arrest while 4 persons remained unidentified.
The official death toll is expected to increase further with the agency’s regional office in Central Visayas has reported 5 more dead who have not been tallied by the NDRRMC main office in Manila.
The agency said 7 persons were still missing as of Friday morning. As of 6 a.m. Friday, there were still 24 roads and 3 bridges not passable to all types of vehicles due to flooding in Regions I, II, III, IV-A, VI, the Cordillera Administrative Region, and Metro Manila.
Ramos said now that the rains have stopped, the agency’s main concern was to ensure that previously flooded areas and the 726 evacuation centers housing 362,307 evacuees are cleaned up.
“An ounce of prevention [is] worth a pound of cure. We don’t want to have breeding grounds for mosquitoes. So far, we have yet to hear of any disease outbreak,” Ramos said.
The NDRRMC said that government and private groups had provided P45,062,868.96 worth of relief assistance to flood victims.
But as the skies cleared, the destruction to agricultural crops in Central Luzon became clearer with initial reports showing that Pampanga bore the brunt of the onslaught.
The NDRRMC-Region III reported that Pampanga lost a total of P847,323,735 worth of crops, fisheries, and livestock, Bulacan (P204,556,617.75), and Zambales (P43,634840.72).