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23 September 2013

Olongapo City under state of calamity

The city of Olongapo has been placed under a state of calamity Monday, September 23, as monsoon rains bring widespread floods to the city and in neighboring Subic.

The city government made the declaration as the city continued to be flooded by rain that has been pouring since Sunday evening, September 22.

An unidentified man reportedly drowned, while evacuation is underway for thousands of residents, with authorities fearing more people could be found dead.

Local officials put up ropes across flooded streets so people could hold on to them to keep from being swept away by strong currents, eyewitnesses said.

People there carried their shivering children as they waded through the floodwaters amid submerged cars, an Agence France-Presse reporter at the scene said.

Local publications Subic Bay News and Subic Times posted photos of flooded streets in the city.

Olongapo City Councilor Winnie Ortiz, in a post on Facebook, said the flooding in the city is the highest they have seen in history.

"[The] city council declared [a] state of calamity thru phone. Unanimous decision," Ortiz said in the post.

Ortiz added the city needs help from the national government, as the local rescue teams are being overwhelmed by the flooding with many people asking for help. As early as 3 am, rescue teams had been fanning out, particularly in the hard-hit village of Sta Rita.

Subic Times also said Mayor Rolen Paulino is coordinating with the US Ambassador Harry Thomas for the US Navy, currently in Subic for joint Philippine-US military exercises, to help in rescue and relief in Olongapo.

Paulino, however, is reportedly out of the country, causing anxiety to his constituents.

Classes have earlier been suspended in all levels by the city government. The city is also without electricity.

Subic landslides

Meanwhile, 6 people have been reported killed in landslides in neighboring Subic, radio dzMM reported, quoting Subic Mayor Jefferson Khonghun.

"We've been experiencing very heavy rain. We are now isolated. I can confirm there are two landslide incidents here. Six people were so far killed," Khonghun told Agence France-Presse.

"The flood water is chest-deep in many areas, and the rain is pounding and the water keeps on rising," he said.

It is not clear how many people have been left stranded in the town of 160,000, but one resident reported that "many" people were waiting on rooftops for rescuers.

Government employee Cristina Humbert, 35, said the ground floor of her two-story home had been flooded but she managed to evacuate her 63-year-old mother to higher ground.

"Many are on the rooftops, waiting for help. They are marooned, and are getting hungry and cold. We have no power, no electricity," she told Agence France-Presse.

Khonghun said four rivers that pass through Subic were heavily silted and had overflowed, causing the floods.


He called on the national government to come to the town's aid.

"We are appealing for rescuers, equipment, diggers, we need relief goods. We need help from the national government, please send in inflatable boats," he said.

Local authorities sent rubber boats and fire trucks to pick up residents but there were not enough to cope, Khonghun added. (Rappler.com)

PHOTO:
Vehicles are underwater as flood waters inundate an area in Olongapo City, September 23, 2013. (Photo courtesy Ryan Viduya)

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