09/11/2008, 00.00
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More than 1,200 people flee their homes creating humanitarian emergency in southern Philippines

by Santosh Digal
Typhoon Nuri wrecks havoc in the Compostela Valley, killing 20 and injuring another 31. Five people are still missing. Filipino Church denounces “delays in relief aid” and “unbridled exploitation of mining resources” which worsened matters.
Manila (AsiaNews) – Landslides caused by typhoon Karen (international codename Nuri) last week-end have killed 20 people and injured another 31; five people are still missing, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said this morning in report.

At least 279 families or 1,216 people are now housed in four schools converted into evacuation centres in Maco town in Compostela Valley, southern Philippines, after killer landslides wiped out their homes.

The NDCC said that landslides destroyed 83 houses, two Apex Mining bunkhouses and Masara village hall.

Local officials in Compostela Valley have started the forced evacuation of Maco town residents who are still facing the danger of landslides

Torrential rains caused by typhoon Nuri Saturday night have led to flooding in the Ilocos region with tens of trees uprooted by 140 km/h winds.

In a tough statement the Catholic Church slammed the authorities for the delays in delivering relief aid and for allowing “unbridled exploitation of mining resources.”

“The tragedy could have been avoided had the authorities acted decisively and forcefully evacuated the residents to safer areas,” Tagum Bishop Wilfredo Manlapaz said.

For his part Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales blamed large-scale mining operations in the area.

Compostela Valley province is known for gold mining and almost all of its communities rely on mining as a prime source of livelihood, but excessive mining have weakened the ground making landslides more common.

Rosales explained that the Church is not against mining per se but said the government should have paid closer attention to the “conditions of safety not only for the workers who are going underneath” but also to that of the “village” and “the environment.”

In the meantime the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has provided 600 families with food packages worth P 79,050 (about US$ 1,600).

The DSWD is also providing P 10,000 (US$ 210) in financial assistance to each family with someone dead or injured.

 “The families in the evacuation centers need water, blankets, mats, clothes, and kitchen utensils since they had to flee from their homes to avoid being buried alive,” said Alicia Bala, DSWD officer.

Such aid can keep them away from their homes which are still endangered by new and devastating landslides.

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