10/03/2009, 00.00
PHILIPPINES

Typhoon Parma graces the population already hit by Ketsana

by Santosh Digal
The intensity of the super typhoon Parma decreases and its path deflects toward Taiwan. Meanwhile, the devastation of the tropical storm Ketsana amounts to nearly two million displaced, 280 deaths and damage amounting to 74 million Euros. An avoidable tragedy with adequate prevention and relief preparations. The bishops call on the population and government to reflect on mistakes.

Manila (AsiaNews) - The super typhoon Parma expected to hit the eastern coast of the country early this morning has decreased in intensity and its path has deflected, reports the National Meteorological Service. Yesterday more than 4 thousand people were evacuated to safety from coastal villages. Meanwhile the island of Luzon, where on September 26, the tropical storm Ketsana caused 288 deaths and about two million displaced, damages amount to 74 million Euro. The tragedy generated by Typhoon Ketsana "is a call for all of us to help our brothers who are now homeless, but also an occasion to reflect on the mistakes made so far." This is the message of Card. Gaudenzio Rosales, archbishop of Manila, while on the streets hundreds of volunteers are working together with police to help the over 370 thousand displaced people, housing them in parishes and shelters.

Fr. Fernando Caprio, a priest of the Archdiocese of Manila, points out that the flooding was caused not only by the rain, but also the total "lack of prevention and lack of environmental awareness in the population." In fact, he asserts that "in the capital, roads, canals and streams are used as landfills." This prevents water from draining and causes continual flooding. "Floods are a natural fact, there is no man or institution that can control them - says the priest - what we can do is prevent the effects of human behaviour, by educating and empowering people."

Meanwhile, the new super typhoon Parma could hit the eastern part of the country today, putting at risk the lives of 2 million people. To prevent further tragedy, the authorities have so far evacuated about 4 thousand people from villages in the provinces of North Camarines and Albay.

The toll from Ketsana that poured about 40 feet of water in a few hours September 26, amounted to 280 deaths and 1.8 million homeless. Apart from the capital 50 provinces are reporting damage to infrastructure and housing for 108 million dollars (74 million Euros).

For many, the tragedy could have been avoided. People of the poorest districts complain of having to wait for hours in flooded houses and or on roofs, ignored by rescue helicopters. "The authorities' response has been inadequate to the seriousness of the situation - said Mgr. Angel Lagdameo, president of the Filipino bishops - if there was no corruption in our government we would be better prepared to respond to these situations".

The very day of the disaster Anthony Golez, head of the National Disaster Coordination Council declared inadequacy of relief, denouncing a lack of resources and people. To tackle the problem, the police are relying on the help of the Church, private associations and NGOs. "The private sector is coordinating with groups of armed forces to distribute supplies and provide first aid to the displaced," said National Police spokesman Nicanor Bartolome of the Philippines (Pnp).

 

 

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