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Storm Kills 11 in Philippines
After months of drought, the wet season arrives with a vengeance
Alex Argote (alexphil)     Print Article 
Published 2007-08-09 08:25 (KST)   
For days, Filipinos, especially those living on the heavily populated main island of Luzon suffered water shortages and power outages as an unusually long dry spell all but drained the major reservoirs and dams. Officials in Manila were forced to undertake extreme measures like water rationing as the promised rains of July failed to arrive and the water levels in Angat dam plummeted alarmingly.

The mini El Nino phenomenon not only affected urban communities but also bit those living in the provinces and countryside just outside the sprawling capital city. Farmers fretted as rice crops died and citrus plantations withered under cloudless skies.

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Faced with the prospect of an energy crisis as well as a food shortage, the Filipino clergy, the Bishops Conference of the Philippines, started massive praying activities to beg for divine intervention in ending the scorching and destructive drought. The heavens over the northern Philippines promptly answered their supplications with the roar of another tropical storm that dumped millions of tons of water on the archipelago.

Packing powerful velocity and laden with huge amounts of rainwater, Typhoon Pabuk, also called Chedeng in the Philippines, howled from the vastness of the Pacific Ocean and whipped across the country on Monday.

The storm triggered heavy monsoon rains that caused much flooding and landslides all over the more than 7,000 islands of the Philippines, destroying property and lives. A particularly terrible tragedy happened in the south, in a mining village of Maco of Compostela province in Mindanao, when a huge landslide buried seven human dwellings, killing 10 Filipino peasants and injuring scores of others.

Up north, in Baguio city, the NDCC or National Disaster Coordinating Council reported that a boy, nine-year-old Roniel Renon Ramos, had lost his life when a landslide engulfed his family's house in the dead of the night as Pabuk raged.

In a suburb of Manila, police officers and firefighters extracted at least six people from their damaged tenement after a concrete wall collapsed on them. Trapped under the debris, the terrified victims yelled for help. Hearing their cries for assistance, bystanders and rescuers rushed to the scene and removed heavy slabs of concrete in a frenzied effort to free the trapped victims as onlookers cheered them on.

Downtown Manila was submerged in rainwater and the government, through the Department of Education, suspended classes from the collegiate down to the elementary level. Flooding was deemed worse in the suburb of Malabon, where disaster officials reported water was more than neck deep in certain low-lying areas. Even though Malabon was inundated, Bong Padua, a spokesman for the town's local government, reported no injuries or major damage.

After most of the dams and reservoirs filled up, and populated areas were sufficiently awash with water, Pabuk stopped lashing the Philippines, made an about turn, and headed to nearby Taiwan.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Alex Argote

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