A Filipino girl is carried to safety through floodwaters in a suburb of Manila. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)
MANILA, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- About 51 persons have died, 23 are missing and nearly 300,000 people have been affected by tropical storm "Ondoy" that has caused heavy downpour and massive flooding in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
As of Sunday, search and rescue workers were still continuing to retrieve residents who stayed at the second, third floors and even at the rooftop of their houses in the Provident village in Marikina city and in the nearby Pasig city and Cainta town in Rizal province.
The National Disaster Coordinating Council said that of the 51 fatalities they have recorded, most were from southern Tagalog which pegged 44 dead - 23 from Tanay, 10 in Angono, five in Baras,three in Rodriguez (formerly Montalban), all in Rizal; one in Calaca, Batangas and one in Calauag, Quezon. One died in Kabugao in Apayao.
In Metro Manila, six were reported dead - three of them in Muntinlupa City, two in Quezon City and one in Marikina. However, radio reports indicated as of noon that eight fatalities were already recovered from the flooded Provident village in Marikina city.
Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, civil military operations officer of the Army's 2nd Infantry Division, however, said that they have recovered 30 bodies in Tanay alone due to flashflood at Barangay Tandang Cocho due to swelling of the Wawa River. He said 23 remained missing.
Detoyato said the Tanay town proper was also affected. He said employees and customers of the Save More grocery and Jollibee fast food restaurant have to stay at the top of the roof of the establishments due to flooding.
"They (stranded) were later retrieved by our rescuers. As of now, since the floodwater is already receding, we are concentrating on retrieval operations and road clearing operations so that other equipment can move to help in the ongoing operations," he said.
Residents help a woman evacuate during flooding in Bocaue outskirts beside a highway north of Manila September 26, 2009. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
In Calamba city in Laguna, he said they recorded one death.
In Pami town, also in Laguna, a soldier, who was among those who were tapped to rescue trapped residents, died after he and six other troops were swept by floodwaters. The body of Pfc. Venancio Ancheta was later recovered.
He said the five still missing rescuers include another soldier and five government militiamen.
"He was part of our rescuers in Pami, Laguna. We have reports that he was able to rescue 20," Detoyato said of Ancheta. "As he was returning to rescue more people, he was swept by the floodwater," he said.
The Philippine military chief Gen. Victor Ibrado conducted an aerial survey of the affected areas in Metro Manila aboard a military helicopter.
NDCC spokesman Anthony Golez said floodwaters have begun to recede in Marikina city, prompting the dispatch of some trucks and rubber boats.
Golez appealed for the understanding of those who were still trapped in their homes, adding that rescuers are coming to save them.
"Since yesterday (Saturday), the NDCC has dispatched rescuers. Men are saying that we are slow. We are asking for their understanding of the people, especially those in areas where the floodwaters are still deep," said Golez.
"Our rescuers were not able to go there immediately. It's not because they are moving slow. They just can not do anything because the floodwaters were still high, the trucks and rubber boats could not penetrate them because of obstructions going to the areas," he said.
Golez even noted that seven rescuers were missing, referring to the rescuers in Pami, Laguna. "They insisted on penetrating the deeper areas. We are hoping that they would be found," he said.
Defense Secretary and NDCC chair Gilberto Toeodoro said all classes at all levels are suspended for tomorrow in Metro Manila and in Rizal.
Golez said local government units in other provinces that are affected by "Ondoy" can declare suspension of classes in their respective areas.
"Local government units can announce (suspension of classes) at the local level. They know better. There is no need for them to wait for the declaration of blanket suspension (from national officials). Their mayors can suspend especially if there is difficult to reach the schools," he said.
People wait for rescue on a bridge in Cainta of Rizal Province, the Philippines, on Sept. 27, 2009. (Xinhua/Stringer)
As of Sunday, Golez said at least 4,036 people have been so far rescued. The rescuers include teams from the military, PNP and Coast Guard, local government units and other private agencies.
The NDCC said 21 are still missing, 20 of whom are from Tanay and one in Benguet. It also reported four injured three in Benguet and one in Sta, Cruz, Laguna.
"We are continuing with the rescue operations. Military helicopters and General Ibrado are conducting an aerial survey to assess the situation," said Teodoro.
In Marikina, Teodoro said relief goods from the Department of Social Welfare and Development were dispatched because some of the relief goods from the city were soaked in floodwater. "The problem in Marikina is that relief goods in the city were soaked so we are sending more relief goods from the warehouse," he said.
Also, he said potable water is another problem in the city because water officials have to cut the supply. Communication signals were also limited in the city.
"Our resources are not only focused on rescue but also in relief efforts. We are giving foodstuffs, deploying doctors in the relief centers," he said.
For nine hours, Teodoro said "Ondoy" delivered 410 mm of rainfall which is 20 mm higher than the average rainfall for entire September. Before, he said that the highest rainfall for a day so far is 330 mm.
"This is due to climate change," he said.
Reports from the NDCC said 54,891 families or 279,763 persons from Metro Manila, Pampanga, Batangas, Laguna, Rizal and CamarinesSur have been affected. Of the number, it said 8,388 families or 43,206 persons are in evacuation centers.
A number of thoroughfares in Metro Manila and In Rizal remained flooded. In Marcos Highway, floodwaters were still as high as chest or waist deep. Officials have appealed to the people who were not affected by the flooding to stay at home if they do not have any urgent things to attend to.
People wait for rescue on the top of their submerged houses in Cainta of Rizal Province, the Philippines, on Sept. 27, 2009. (Xinhua/Stringer)