Death toll from monsoon rains climbs to 85, as reports drift inBy Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — The government may have spoken too soon.
The death toll from last week’s monsoon rains, which brought Metro Manila and the outlying provinces to their knees, climbed to 85, the National Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said on Sunday.
The fatalities from the floods spawned by the monsoon rains already topped the 53 reported deaths when tropical storm “Gener,” which later became a typhoon, battered much of Luzon two weeks ago.
At the height of the flooding, the authorities claimed that the casualties had been minimized due to the government’s immediate response to the disaster.
But Benito Ramos, NDRRMC executive director, acknowledged that the actual picture of the monsoon rains’ devastation could be grimmer as the state agency was still receiving reports from flooded areas.
Ramos said the NDRRMC and local government officials were closely monitoring several villages in Camanava (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Navotas), one of the hardest-hit areas in the metropolis.
Although floods have subsided since Friday, mounds of garbage have been littering residential areas in northern Metro Manila, he said.
“The garbage washed away by the floods posed great health risks to the victims of the flooding,” the NDRRMC chief said.
As of 5 a.m. on Sunday, the NDRMMC reported that 85 people had perished because of the floods, 62 of whom drowned.
Twelve people, including nine family members in Quezon City, were killed in six landslides triggered by the torrential rains.
Ramos said two victims died of lightning, three were electrocuted, three died of heart attack and two were killed by falling trees.
He said at least 10 persons were reported injured while eight others remained missing.
A total of 62,846 people were rescued by government and nongovernment teams from the swamped villages in Luzon.
The NDRRMC placed the damage to infrastructure and agriculture in the affected several regions at P604.63 million.
In Metro Manila alone, Ramos said more than P400-million worth of medical facilities were destroyed by the rains that inundated a number of public and private hospitals and stranded members of the hospital staff and their patients.
The NDRRMC said a total of 8,428 houses were either totally or partly damaged by the floods, forcing 768,989 people to flee their homes.
The agency said 430,125 people were still staying in 948 evacuation centers in Luzon and Western Visayas, as of Sunday, while 338,864 individuals had moved to the houses of their relatives.
According to the NDRRMC, the week-long monsoon rains had affected over 3 million individuals in 36 cities and 167 municipalities in 16 provinces in six regions —Metro Manila, Ilocos, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Western Visayas.
It said about half of these affected areas experienced severe flooding. At least 10 roads and three damaged bridges in flooded areas were still closed to traffic.
Chief Supt. Leonardo Espina, director of the police Highway Patrol Group, said the Calumpit-Pulilan junction along the MacArthur Highway in Bulacan as well as the Apalit-San Simon junction of the North Luzon Expressway in Pampanga and a portion of a highway in San Fernando, Pampanga remained impassable to light vehicles, as of Sunday.