Floods, Landslides Toll 184 in Philippines; Rice Crop Worst Affected

After a week of heavy rains, floods and landslides, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has mobilised troops to clear roads of rubbles and mud in mountainous Northern provinces isolated by landslides and floods that left 184 dead.

It should be noted that three northern regions destroyed by the floods contribute a bulk to the rice output in the main Luzon island and authorities were taking stock of the damage to the fourth quarter harvest.

According to early estimates by the agriculture department, nearly 3.2 billion pesos ($69 million) worth of crops, mainly rice and corn, were destroyed.

“I have ordered the soldiers and cadets at the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City to help out in the rescue and relief efforts,” Arroyo said in a statement.

However, Baguio City in the vegetable and rice growing mountain province of Benguet 250 km (155 miles) north of the capital, remained totally cut off after boulders and mudslides, triggered by days of intense rain from Typhoon Parma, blocked roads.

Parma first hit the Philippines last Saturday and hovered around the northern part of Luzon throughout the week. It has since weakened into a tropical depression and moved out to sea.

The floods and mudslides came two weeks after another storm, Ketsana, inundated areas in and around the capital Manila, killing at least 337 people and forcing half a million from their homes.

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