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Natural Disasters

Philippine flooding displaces hundreds of thousands

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled flooding in the Philippine capital, Manila. At least 60 percent of the sprawling Asian metropolis remains under water after 11 consecutive days of monsoon rain.

The Philippine national disaster agency on Wednesday distributed emergency aid to some 800,000 displaced by monsoon flooding in the capital, Manila, as the toll rose to at least 64 dead since Typhoon Saola hit the archipelago nation's main island of Luzon in late July.

For 11 consecutive days, Manila has been hit by torrential rain, which has killed at least 16 people since Monday. Nine members of the same family were killed in a landslide in a mountainous area near the city's main reservoir on Tuesday.

The flood waters had reached as high as six meters (19.7 feet) in some parts of the city, according to Benito Ramos, head of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD). Ramos told the news agency Reuters that 60 percent of the city remained under water on Wednesday.

The OCD reported that the flooding has forced more than 242,000 residents to seek shelter in evacuation centers in the capital and 11 provinces, while over 607,000 people have sought refuge with family and friends.

The urban poor have been disproportionately affected by the flooding. Manila is a megacity of at least 12 million people, where those who live in slums and shantytowns are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters.

Employees ordered back to work

Despite the ongoing flooding, government and private sector employees were told to return to work on Tuesday.

Scenes of flooding in Manila

"Even as the situation remains of concern for so many citizens affected by the rain and flooding, it is imperative that we begin returning to normalcy as soon as possible," presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

"This requires government workers to report to their offices to continue and accelerate efforts at rescue, relief, and rehabilitation," Lacierda added.

The Philippines, an archipelago nation located in southeast Asia, suffers around 20 major storms and typhoons each rainy season. Typhoon Haikui, which made landfall in southern China on Wednesday, has exacerbated the flooding, according to the Philippines' weather service.

slk/tj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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