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Typhoon Ketsana: Rescue Teams Save Hundreds in Metro Manila as Viet Nam Prepares for the Worst
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Lasse Norgaard, IFRC in Bangkok
September 28, 2009

On Saturday, Typhoon Ketsana hit the Philippines, causing the worst flooding in more than 40 years in the capital city Manila and other areas of the northern Philippines. Now the typhoon is headed for Vietnam.

Red Cross search and rescue teams saved more than 400 people from rooftops and high walls over the weekend as flood waters from Typhoon Ketsana caught people by surprise.
Red Cross search and rescue teams saved more than 400 people from rooftops and high walls over the weekend as flood waters from Typhoon Ketsana caught people by surprise.
Philippines Red Cross
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Throughout the evening and into Saturday night, Red Cross water search and rescue teams worked to save people stranded on rooftops and high walls. Using rubber and aluminum boats, the 21 specially trained teams brought more than 400 people to Red Cross evacuation centers in Manila and Benguet.

A total of 130 centers were opened within hours, giving refuge to nearly 75,000 people. Here, they were provided with hot meals, blankets and comfort after flash floods suddenly inundated their homes and neighborhoods.

The flooding, caused by a combination of Typhoon Ketsana and annual monsoon rains, caught most by surprise. While the typhoon was anticipated and citizens braced for it, many were surprised by its intensity as compared with other previous typhoons.

A monsoon month’s rainfall in six hours

Within only six hours, a staggering 14 to 22 inches of rain fell on the area, an amount equivalent to a typical month's rainfall in the monsoon season.

More than 100 people are reported dead, towns east of Manila were submerged and there were reports of landslides in other parts of Luzon. Electricity in large parts of Manila either went down or was cut off for safety reasons. The airport was closed for hours, leaving hundreds of stranded passengers inside.

The government declared a state of calamity for Manila and 25 other provinces in Luzon.

The PNRC dispatched the search and rescue teams late Saturday afternoon, and mobilized hundreds of volunteers to assist stranded families fleeing the rising waters. The teams, evacuation centers and the Red Cross operational centre worked throughout the weekend to save lives.

As of Sunday morning the typhoon had passed, but the rescue work continued, since 80 percent of Manila was still under water and more rain has been forecast. Today, there are still thousands of people in the evacuation centers, and the Red Cross is dispatching assessment teams to affected communities.

Vietnam bracing for typhoon’s landfall

Typhoon Ketsana is now moving west, threatening to hit central and northern Vietnam within 48 hours. Heavy rains over the weekend have already caused flooding in 19 communes across three districts. One person has died and 20 fishermen were saved when their boat sank. 4,000 houses have been flooded, livestock has been killed and rice paddies have been destroyed.

Authorities have warned fishermen not to go to sea and have sent officials to coastal areas to lead evacuation and emergency relief work. The Red Cross has evacuated 1,200 people, including children and the elderly, in Vietnam and warned communities prone to flooding to prepare for the worst. Volunteers trained in search, rescue and water-based life saving are on standby with boats, and Red Cross chapters in potentially impacted districts have pre-positioned food and other relief items.

You can help the victims of countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. Donations to the International Response Fund can be sent to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013 or made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or online at www.redcross.org.

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