28 Sep 2009

Sanitation crisis as Philippines struggles with flood aftermath

9:44 pm on 28 September 2009

The death toll from the Philippines flood climbed past 100 on Monday, and will probably go higher, as rescue workers struggle against the sheer scale of the catastrophe.

More than 400,000 people have been displaced by the worst floods in four decades. A tropical storm dumped more than a month's rain on the capital, Manila, and its surrounding provinces in just 12 hours.

Now the authorities are scrambling to prevent disease outbreaks as putrid water and knee-deep sludge lies across vast sections of Manila.

Sanitary conditions at overcrowded evacuation centres, where tens of thousands of people have sought refuge, are also deplorable, with human faeces lying in the open at some of them.

Resources spread too thinly

With 80% of Manila said to be under water, the head of the National Disaster Co-ordinating Council, Anthony Golez, says available resources are being spread too thinly.

"We are concentrating on massive relief operations," Mr Golez is quoted by the BBC as saying. "The system is overwhelmed, local government units are overwhelmed.

"We were used to helping one city, one or two provinces, but now they are following one after another."

Some officials are quoted as saying that rubbish-choked drains and waterways, along with high tides, compounded the flooding.