MANILA, Philippines – Many Filipinos tried to rebuild their lives today after saving little more than the clothes they wore in a tropical storm and the capital’s worst flooding in more than four decades. At least 86 people were dead and 32 missing.
Army troops, police and civilian volunteers plucked dead bodies from muddy floodwaters and rescued drenched survivors from rooftops after Tropical Storm Ketsana tore through the northern Philippines on Saturday.
Ketsana dumped more than a month’s worth of rain in just 12 hours, swamping entire towns, setting off landslides and leaving neighborhoods in the capital with destroyed houses, overturned vehicles and roads covered in mud and debris.
The government declared a “state of calamity” in metropolitan Manila and 25 storm-hit provinces, allowing officials to use emergency funds for relief and rescue. At least 86 people were killed and 32 others missing, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said today.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo toured devastated areas and prodded villagers to move on with their lives. She said the storm and the flooding were “an extreme event” that “strained our response capabilities to the limit but ultimately did not break us.”
TV footage shot Sunday from a military helicopter showed drenched survivors marooned on top of half-submerged passenger buses and rooftops in suburban Manila. Some dangerously clung to high-voltage power lines while others plodded through waist-high waters.
Authorities deployed rescue teams on boats to save survivors.
More than 430,000 people were affected by the storm, including some 115,000 people who were brought to about 200 schools, churches and other evacuation shelters, officials said. Troops, police and volunteers have so far been able to rescue more than 7,900 people, Teodoro said.
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