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Hunger threatens flooded southern Philippines

More rain could spell further disaster

Hunger threatens flooded southern Philippines

Residents navigate a flooded streed of Maguindanao province (photo by Myrna Jo Henry) reporter, Cotabato City

August 5, 2013

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Victims of extensive flooding in the southern Philippines are struggle to access food and electricity, with residents of at least 22 towns in the stricken Maguindanao province badly affected by the disaster.

"The people are having a hard time. The food they received is barely enough to stave off hunger," said Bai Lannie Diocolano, mayor of Kabuntalan town in Maguindanao. "Every year we experience floods, but this year is the worst."

In 17 towns where floodwaters reached two meters, power outages were compounding the problem.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said some 400,000 people, more than half of them in Maguindanao province, have been displaced by the flooding.

At least 185 villages in 20 of the province’s 36 towns remained underwater. In the town of Sultan Kudarat alone, 41,700 people have fled to safer ground. As of last Friday, 115 schools were closed.

Governor Esmael Mangudadatu already declared a "state of calamity" to "magnify and hasten" relief efforts in flooded areas. The declaration enabled the provincial government to buy shelter materials and other supplies needed in the evacuation sites.

Mangudadatu said relief workers have already distributed food supplies, including rice, noodles and canned sardines to displaced villagers.

In the southern city of Cotabato, authorities estimated that at least 100,000 residents were affected by the rising floodwaters.

In the capital Manila, authorities prepared for the relocation of some 600 families from "danger zones" in the suburb of San Juan.

The weather bureau warned that another potential weather disturbance threatens to bring more rain in the coming days.

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