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Tropical storm kills 80 in the Philippines


Manila : At least 80 people were killed as tropical storm Ketsana battered a wide area in the Philippines, resulting in record rainfall on the capital that caused the worst flooding in 40 years, officials said Sunday.

At least 21 people were missing in floods and landslides, according to Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, who also heads the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC).

Authorities rushed rescue and relief to thousands of people who spent the night on the roofs of submerged houses in Manila and surrounding provinces. Some were trapped in their cars on flooded streets.

Teodoro said rescue teams were able to reach more areas Sunday as the weather improved and floods receded in affected municipalities.

“The US government has dispatched a helicopter and additional rubber boats to help in the rescue,” he said. “We will continue our rescue operations until everyone that needs help is reached.”

Rizal province east of Manila was one of the worst hit. One city in the province was almost completely submerged in floodwaters. At least 49 people died in floods in the province, officials said.

Lieutenant Colonel Noel Detoyato, a civil military operations officer, said soldiers recovered 30 bodies in the town of Tanay alone in Rizal. Nineteen others drowned in the towns of Angono, Baras, Rodriguez and Teresa.

At least 10 people drowned in the Manila suburb of Marikina. The bodies were laid out on the streets as rescuers struggled to reach some isolated areas.

Twenty more people either drowned, got electrocuted, were buried in landslides, struck by a fallen tree or collapsed walls or suffered a heart attack in the provinces of Laguna, Batangas, Quezon and Apayao.

The weather bureau said the rainfall recorded Saturday in Manila was the capital’s heaviest since 1967.

Nilo Prisco, head of the weather bureau, said the storm dumped 410.6 mm of rain in Manila in just nine hours.

The amount exceeded the average monthly rainfall of 391 mm and the 1967 record of 331 mm.

“We can attribute this to climate change,” he said.

The NDCC said more than 279,000 people were affected by Ketsana, which has strengthened as it moved away from the Philippines.

The weather bureau said the storm was packing maximum winds of 105 kmph and gusts of up to 135 kmph. It was moving west-north-west at 24 kmph towards the South China Sea.