"Rain, floods force 120,000 Filipinos to flee"
MANILA, Philippines - May 17, 1997 -- (Reuter) - More than 120,000 Filipinos have fled their homes after the heaviest rains in a decade triggered massive flooding in the northern Philippines, killing 36 people, police and relief officials said Tuesday.
President Fidel Ramos placed Manila and four provinces, which bore the brunt of three days of torrential rains, under a state of calamity. The step allows the government to release emergency funds for rescue and rehabilitation.
The weather bureau said it recorded 12 inches of rainfall in Manila during the 72-hour period that began Saturday. The amount was equivalent to a whole month of rain, unusual even for a country hit by an average of 20 typhoons a year.
``This is the worst...for the last 10 years,'' Prisco Nilo, chief of the bureau's forecasting section told Reuters. The rains brought Manila to a standstill Monday, closing all its financial markets for the day.
Combined reports from the police and relief agencies put the death toll at 36, most of them drowning victims, as flood waters as deep as 10 feet submerged about half of Manila and about 300,000 homes in the city and provinces. Dozens were injured, police said.
The social welfare department said more than 120,000 people sought refuge in schoolhouses, government buildings and churches.
Manila's international airport remained without electricity for the second straight day after flood waters swamped the terminal building's basement and cut off its power supply.
Computers, baggage carousels and X-ray machines stopped working and scores of flights were delayed.