MANILA - Philippine authorities scrambled to provide food and other emergency provisions Saturday to more than two million people affected by widespread flooding, as the death toll rose to 66, officials said. The flooding that submerged 80 percent of Manila early in the week has largely subsided, allowing people to return to their homes, but more than 100 low-lying towns and cities to the north remain under water. Civil defence chief Benito Ramos said the huge displaced population, including 441,000 people crammed in crowded evacuation camps, would need to be fed and taken care of for at least another seven days. The bulk of our operations involves relief, but also clean-up,” Ramos told AFP.
“Volunteers are packaging 100,000 food packs for immediate distribution.” The government’s disaster co-ordination council said it was serving nearly 758,000 people displaced by floods on Saturday, significantly more than the previous day as tens of thousands trickled into evacuation centres overnight. But with 2.68 million people affected, up from 2.44 million on Friday, many are having to fend for themselves. In Calumpit, a farming town about 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Manila, unmarried construction worker Ronaldo Cruz stepped out of his house, stuck in waist-deep floods, to ask for food from better-off neighbours and relatives.