Philippines declares state of ‘national calamity’
Heavy rain pummelled the entire Philippines Saturday, flooding more areas as the government declared a state of “national calamity”.
The death toll after a week of devastating weather has risen to 41, according to confirmed reports from national and local disaster monitoring agencies.
Poor farming communities in the main southern island of Mindanao were flooded Saturday after at least two rivers burst their banks, local disaster officials said.
The storm, known locally as Onyok, weakened into a low pressure area after hitting land late on Friday, but continued to bring more rain to Mindanao and the central Visayas islands.
Cold monsoon winds blowing from the north-east brought rain to Luzon, the main northern island, where large farming communities have been submerged in mostly waist-deep floods brought on by Typhoon Melor, which hit at the start of the week.
“Almost the entire Philippines is experiencing rain. More floods are possible,” said state weather forecaster Robert Badrina. “We expect the rain to peak today. The weather will start to improve tomorrow.”
President Benigno Aquino ordered state agencies to “hasten the rescue recovery, relief and rehabilitation efforts” in a statement, declaring a state of “national calamity”. The government will control prices of basic goods in affected areas, the statement read.
The weather bureau issued a warning of up to 30mm of rain per hour on the central islands of Cebu, Negros and Bohol, and residents were on alert for possible evacuation. The three Visayas islands, with a population of 7.4 million, are home to tourism, trading and agricultural hubs.
The Philippines, a nation of 100 million, is battered by an average of 20 typhoons per year, many of them deadly. In 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan wiped out entire fishing communities in the central islands, leaving 7,350 people dead or missing.