ASEAN, US sympathize with flood-hit PH

Posted at 08/08/2012 10:01 PM | Updated as of 08/09/2012 1:21 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United States on Wednesday extended their sympathies to the Philippines where at least 1 million people were affected by deadly floods.

ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan assured the Philippines, particularly residents of the flood-hit capital Manila and nearby areas, of assistance from the bloc, which celebrates its 45th foundation today.

“We salute the efforts of the Government and other humanitarian actors to save thousands of lives as we convey our assurance that ASEAN stands ready to assist and provide emergency relief as soon as requested,” Pitsuwan said in a statement posted on the ASEAN website.

Pitsuwan said the Jakarta-based ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Centre or AHA Center is closely monitoring the situation and preparing for some response options in case the situation gets worse.

“As the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator, I will continue to work closely with the AHA Centre to monitor the situation and initiate necessary actions,” he said.

US gives $100,000

Meanwhile, the United States, through its embassy in Manila, said it intends to release $100,000 for relief efforts.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas also extended his sympathies to those affected by the massive flooding.

“On behalf of the U.S. government and the American people, I extend my heartfelt sympathies to those who are displaced and who have lost homes and livelihoods due to the floods,” he said.

The US said it will help assess the damage and determine the immediate needs in Metro Manila and surrounding areas through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

1 million affected

More than one million people in and around the Philippine capital battled deadly floods Wednesday amid relentless monsoon rains, with neck-deep waters trapping slum dwellers and the wealthy on roofs.

Sixty percent of Manila remained under water and vast tracts of surrounding farmland were also submerged as the deluge stretched into its third day, according to the government.

"The roads in some areas are like rivers. People have to use boats to move around. All the roads and alleys are flooded," civil defense chief Benito Ramos told AFP after surveying the megacity of 15 million people from the air.

The death toll from this week's rain in Manila and nearby provinces rose to 20 on Wednesday after four more people drowned, according to authorities.

This brought the confirmed number of people killed across the country since a typhoon triggered heavy rains in late July to 73. – with Agence France-Presse