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Philippine authorities say that 240 people have died in the floods
caused by Tropical Storm Ketsana but that number is likely to rise. And
rescue efforts could be hampered by new storms that could be heading
toward the Philippines.
Rescue efforts are still under way
Tuesday in the northern Philippines as the country struggles to recover
from one of the worst rainstorms ever to hit the region.
Anderson is the United Nations World Food Program's country director in
Manila. He compares the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Ketsana to
Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the southern United States in 2005.
"It was more rain in fact than Hurricane Katrina and you know
up to 20 feet of water engulfed some parts of Manila, especially the
low lying areas," he said.
Hundreds have been reported dead or
missing. The government has set up tents to shelter the thousands left
homeless by the flooding but says it does not have the resources to
help all in need. A state of calamity has been declared in Manila and
25 provinces, and an appeal has been made to the international
community for help.
Presidential spokesman Anthony Golez says clean drinking water leads the list of immediate needs.
number one priority need for the major relief operation would be the
distribution of potable water because we are afraid the line, the water
lines may be contaminated," he said.
He says Japan
and the United States have been the first to offer assistance. The U.S.
military, which already was in the country conducting counter-terrorism
training, is providing helicopters, boats and troops to support rescue
Anderson says the World Food Program is providing 600
tons of rice and will help coordinate the international relief effort.
But he says new storms forming in the region could cause additional
deaths and damage.
"We're all running against time," he said.
"There is an indication that two storms are forming to the east of the
Philippines, two tropical depressions that could turn into tropical
storms or typhoons. It is too early to know if they will hit us here in
Manila but if they do this would indeed be catastrophic."
now a typhoon, hit the coast of central Vietnam Tuesday afternoon. Tens
of thousands of residents in the area had evacuated earlier in the day
and the government urged residents to take shelter from the storm. The
storm is expected to bring heavy rain to Laos, Cambodia and Thailand as
it moves inland.