10/09/2009, 00.00
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Typhoon in northern Philippines: Landslides and floods, hundreds feared dead

by Santosh Digal
60% of the province of Pangasinan is submerged by water. In the villages most affected in the region of Cordillera few houses remain standing. Sr. Bejer, of the Diocese of Urdaneta, “Church buildings have been converted into shelters for the displaced."

Manila (AsiaNews) - A series of landslides caused by torrential rains have destroyed towns, villages and roads in the mountainous areas of northern Philippines. It is feared that the dead in the provinces of Benguet and Mountain could be over 100.

Local authorities speak of hundreds of landslides that have hit five cities overnight in the Cordillera region, about 200 kilometres north of Manila. The landslides have been caused by incessant rains dumped in the area by Typhoon Parma that from 3 October has been pummelling the Philippines.  

The country, already struggling with the damage and deaths caused by tropical storm Ketsana of two weeks ago now has to deal with the new typhoon. Butch Velasco, officer of the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC), said that 60% of the province of Pangasinan and adjacent areas are now submerged and that the homeless are in their thousands  

Rex Manuel, one of those responsible for relief efforts in the Cordillera, announced that in the villages of Buyagan and La Trinidad, the most affected by recent landslides, only three of the hundreds of houses have been left standing. The roads are impassable and emergency vehicles struggle to arrive in the affected areas, many of them are only reachable by boat or helicopter.  

Sr. Mary Audrey Bejer, a Benedictine nun of the Diocese of Urdaneta, tells AsiaNews that "the people is in a desperate situation. The different Church buildings have been converted into shelters for the displaced", the religious adds: "We ask everyone to pray for us so that ordinary people can be rescued. We are doing everything possible, but the situation is really very dramatic. "


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