We are still on 'red alert
The northern Philippines, already crippled by deadly flooding that displaced hundreds of thousands of people, was threatened Tuesday by another storm.
Kai-Tak (locally called Helen), which intensified into a tropical storm, was advancing toward northern Luzon, the country's main island where the capital Manila is located, prompting forecasters to issue a public storm warning for several areas in the region.
Although the storm was unlikely to make landfall on Luzon, forecasters said it could mean more southwest monsoon, unleashing torrential rains over wide areas in Luzon and Visayas islands.
Any more rains would seriously hurt Manila, much of which had remained under water through last week and is only now seeing some respite.
One forecaster said by Wednesday night, Helen was likely to bring significant rains over most of Luzon before moving toward southern Taiwan, the Philippine Star reported.
That raised the threat of more flash floods, landslides and other disasters in a region where relief and medical authorities already are fighting to control any outbreak of diseases, and are challenged to provide clean water and food to those in hundreds of evacuation centers.
The death toll from two week of torrential rains had risen to 95 Tuesday, GMA News reported, quoting the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. They included 69 drowning deaths and another 12 in landslides. At least four people remained missing.
The council said the rains had affected about 3.45 million people. About 342,000 people were still staying in 810 evacuation centers, while others were returning to their homes as the waters subsided.
Council head Benito Ramos said the military, police and coast guard personnel were again on standby for rescue mode operations, the Voice of America reported.
"We are still on 'red alert.' We haven't downgraded our alert ... 100 percent of our government forces, on a 24-hour basis," Ramos said.
As of Monday, at least 41 cities and towns in Ilocos, Central and Southern Luzon, Region 11 and Metro Manila had been placed under a state of calamity, GMA reported.
While there was some relief in Metro Manila, many areas in nearby provinces remained inundated from overflowing dams, authorities said.
But the receding waters also had left behind clogged pipelines and trash everywhere, making sanitation a key problem, Philippine Red Cross officials said.
Health officials were distributing water purification tablets and conducting mass immunizations program to protect people against water-borne diseases.
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