| Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Over 300 killed in 'Winnie' landslides, floods
MANILA -- Hundreds of people were reported killed and scores of others missing in floods and landslides brought about by heavy rains accompanying tropical depression Winnie as it sliced through Luzon Monday night.
A National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) report placed the death toll from the weather disturbance at 74 as of 5 p.m. Tuesday but Social Welfare Sec. Corazon Soliman said in an ABS-CBN report that over 300 persons were killed in Quezon Province alone.
The disaster prompted President Arroyo to cut short her trip in Laos to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit there.
Arroyo was expected to arrive back in the country by 11 p.m. Tuesday, instead of her scheduled Wednesday arrival.
If this was not enough of a calamity, the weather bureau warned Tuesday that a tropical storm that is far stronger than typhoon Winnie was poised to strike the country by Wednesday or Thursday.
This early, the NDCC is advising residents of coastal areas in Central Luzon to leave for safer areas before the tropical storm hits the country.
Thousands of families in Metro Manila and northern Luzon were evacuated due to the flooding.
They are staying in evacuation centers put up by the National Government and local government units (LGUs).
No less than 51 barangays in Bulacan, 27 in Nueva Ecija, five in Rizal and Metro Manila were submerged in floodwaters Tuesday.
Several bridges and major thoroughfares in the metropolis and affected provinces were rendered impassable to vehicles.
The provinces of Pangasinan and Aurora were also ravaged by the typhoon.
Power and communication lines in Real and Infanta, Quezon and Dingalan, and Aurora were cut off.
Different government agencies participated in the search and rescue operations.
Armed Forces personnel augmented NDCC rescuers in search and rescue operations in Real and Infanta, Quezon.
Its 51st Engineering Brigade deployed rubber boats, M-35 trucks and rescue team in Montalban, Rizal.
The Armed Forces National Capital Region Command (NCRC) dispatched rescue teams with two rubber boats and M-35 trucks to Gumamela Umbel in Roxas District and West River Side in Barangay Damayan, and Tagumpay Area 5 in Bagong Silangan, both in Quezon City.
The Philippine Army also conducted search and rescue operations in Lucban, Quezon; Gen. Tinio and Gapan, Nueva Ecija; and San Miguel in Bulacan.
The Makati Disaster Coordinating Council dispatched its rescue teams with two rubber boats and M-35 trucks to flooded areas in Quezon City, Marikina,
Malabon, San Juan, Pasig, and Manila.
Malabon and Navotas dispatched rescue teams to Marikina City.
The Philippine Coast Guard assisted in rescue operations.
A Coast Guard chopper airlifted emergency food assistance for the victims in Real, Quezon.
Arroyo returned to the country late Tuesday night, upon hearing of the extensive damage wrought by tropical depression Winnie.
Her spokesman Ignacio Bunye said Arroyo ordered the NDCC to coordinate with local government units (LGUs) in the relief and rescue operations in the five provinces affected by Winnie.
"Naibigay na ng Pangulo ang kanyang mga instructions sa mga (The President has given instructions to) coordinating agencies particularly the NDCC at (and) Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)," he said.
He said Arroyo will be given the latest on the calamity once she gets back. He said the President would have to wait for daybreak if she wants to visit the calamity areas.
Bunye said government is willing to release additional funds for the affected areas.
Arroyo also visited the areas ravaged by typhoon Unding after she arrived from her trip to Chile, US, Panama and Mexico last November 25. (JFF/JMR)
(December 1, 2004 issue)
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