Wed August 8, 2012 1:01pm
WIDESPREAD flooding that killed at least 23 people, battered a million others and paralysed the Philippine capital has eased, allowing rescuers in boats to reach a large number of distressed residents still marooned in submerged villages.
Forecasters said on Wednesday the monsoon rains that overflowed major dams and rivers crisscrossing Manila and surrounding provinces would gradually abate and lead to sunny weather later this week after 12 days of relentless downpours.
The deluge that began late on Sunday was the worst since 2009 when hundreds died in rampaging flash floods.
"We're still in a rescue mode," said Benito Ramos, who heads the government's main disaster-response agency.
"Floods are receding in many areas but people are still trapped on their roofs."
Ramos said the massive flooding turned half of Manila into "a water world" on Monday evening and into Tuesday.
At least 23 died, including nine in a landslide in a hillside slum in suburban Quezon City and several others who drowned in outlying provinces.
More than 1.2 million people were affected by the deluge, including 783,000 who fled from their inundated homes.
With the receding floodwaters, some of the displaced have started returning to their homes but others stayed put despite the hard conditions in emergency shelters as rain clouds again darkened the sky on Wednesday afternoon.
Carmen Empesao said she panicked and left with her three grandchildren when waist-deep floodwaters swamped her home in the hard-hit city of Marikina.
"We fled without any food and the clothes we managed to grab were wet and cannot be worn," Empesao, 60, said from an evacuation centre teeming with 3000 displaced.
Rescue efforts shifted into high gear on Wednesday, with more than 130 emergency crewmen from two provinces reaching the capital city of 12 million people to help their overwhelmed teams, including police and soldiers.
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