x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 September 2017

Flooding in Philippines leaves villagers stranded on rooftops

Back-to-back typhoons leave at least 55 people dead and hundreds stranded on rooftops for days.

Rescuers manoeuvre a rubber boat carrying villagers as others wade through floodwaters after Typhoon Nalgae hit the Philippines, dumping heavy rain which increased flood levels, in Calumpit, north of Manila. Cheryl Ravelo / Reuters
Rescuers manoeuvre a rubber boat carrying villagers as others wade through floodwaters after Typhoon Nalgae hit the Philippines, dumping heavy rain which increased flood levels, in Calumpit, north of Manila. Cheryl Ravelo / Reuters

MANILA // Rescuers scrambled yesterday to deliver food and water to hundreds of villagers stuck on rooftops for days because of flooding in the northern Philippines, where back-to-back typhoons have left at least 55 people dead.

Typhoon Nalgae slammed ashore in northeastern Isabela province on Saturday, then barrelled across the main island of Luzon's mountainous north and agricultural plains, which were still sodden from fierce rain and winds unleashed by a storm just days earlier. Nalgae left at least three people dead on Saturday. Typhoon Nesat killed 52 others and left 30 missing in the same region before blowing out on Friday.

Nalgae was whirling over the South China Sea and heading towards southern China yesterday afternoon, 370 kilometres from the Philippines' north-east coast, with sustained winds of 120 kilometres per hour and gusts of 150 kph, according to the Philippine government weather agency.

China's National Meteorological Centre urged people in areas expected to be hit by rainstorms in the next three days, including on southernmost Hainan island and in eastern Taiwan, to stay indoors and cancel large assemblies, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.

Nalgae's winds set off a rockslide in the northern mountain province of Bontoc in the Philippines on Saturday, causing boulders to roll down a mountainside and smash a passing van, where a passenger was killed and another injured.

In northern Tarlac province's Camiling town, a man sought safety with his two young nephews as flood waters rose in their village on Saturday. But one of the children was swept away and drowned, while his uncle and his brother remained missing. A drunken man drowned in flooding in a nearby village, the provincial disaster officer Marvin Guiang said.

Nalgae roared through parts of Luzon that had been saturated by Typhoon Nesat, which trapped thousands on rooftops and sent huge waves that breached a seawall in Manila Bay. Nesat then pummelled southern China and was downgraded to a tropical storm before arriving in Vietnam on Friday, where 20,000 people were evacuated.

Seven towns north of Manila were still flooded yesterday, including Calumpit in the rice-growing Bulacan province, where hundreds of residents remained trapped on rooftops in four villages for the fourth day, many desperately waving for help. Rescuers aboard rubber boats could not reach them because of narrow alleys. Two air force helicopters were deployed to drop water and food packs to the marooned villagers, officials said.

In the past four months, prolonged monsoon flooding, typhoons and storms across South-east Asia, China, Japan and South Asia have left more than 600 people dead or missing. In India, the damage is estimated to be worth US$1 billion (Dh3.6bn).