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Philippines mops up after two typhoons in a week

Oct 2, 2011, 2:44 a.m.
Rescuers prepare their boat as they continue their rescue operations after Typhoon Nalgae hit the Philippines, dumping heavy rain which increased flood levels in Calumpit, Bulacan province, north of Manila October 2, 2011. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine authorities were struggling on Sunday to reach communities in northern provinces of Luzon island that were hit by two powerful typhoons in less than week, as concern grew about a third storm forming off the coast.

The national disaster agency said one person had been killed when Typhoon Nalgae struck on Saturday, although there were reports of more deaths from provincial officials. The storm, packing winds of 140 kph (87 mph), is moving away from the Philippines toward Vietnam.

The Philippines had yet to recover from Typhoon Nesat, which hit on Tuesday, killing at least 52 people, when Nalgae struck. Thirty people are still missing after Nesat and a number of towns and villages are flooded, the disaster agency said.

Parts of two provinces north of the capital, Pampanga and Bulacan, have been submerged in chest-deep water since Friday, with many residents sheltering on their roofs, and Nalgas's rain meant the towns were likely to remain flooded as water ran down from the mountains.

"If there's anyone willing to help, we need food," Marites Pilapil, a resident of Calumpit town, Bulacan, told Reuters, "Me and my companions here can't work or do anything to make a living."

World Vision, an international aid agency, said people in flooded areas need ready-to-eat food and water.

"We are seeing a mass exodus of people looking for food," said Jay Mijares, World Vision's communications officer who was in Bulacan.

"Survivors have no means to cook food. They may have money but there's just nothing to buy."

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said the government had asked U.N. agencies to provide food, water and medicines as well as emergency care to pregnant women, children and the elderly.

ISOLATED

The successive typhoons had left parts of many provinces isolated because roads were impassable and power was down, and the risk of a third typhoon hitting later this week meant it was urgent to get relief supplies in.

"It's the first time we've been hit by two consecutive typhoons, strong ones," said Teddy Baguilat, a representative of the hard-hit Ifugao region, told ANC television, saying people in his region needed fuel and food.

"We're hanging in there, we just need a helping hand now from our national government."

Typhoon Nalgae hit rice-producing Isabela province and battered the Cordillera mountain region, losing power before it cleared the west coast.

Officials were monitoring another storm that was forming off the east coast and could hit northern Luzon later this week.

The damage bill from Typhoon Nesat stood at 6.7 billion pesos ($155 million), the disaster agency said. More than 180,000 people fled to shelters in dozens of towns north of Manila. There was no initial damage estimate for Nalgae.

(Reporting By Manny Mogato and Rolando Ng; Editing by John Mair and Robert Birsel)

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