|Flooding in the Philippines|
Catholic News Service photo
Residents in Paranaque city wade in waist-deep floodwaters in metro Manila, Philippines, Aug. 20. Heavy rains continue to batter the Philippine capital and nearby provinces, causing government offices, schools and some businesses to suspend work. Thousands of people had to leave their homes.
Catholic News ServiceMANILA, Philippines — Workers for Catholic relief agencies prepared to deliver aid to tens of thousands of displaced people in Manila and surrounding communities after flooding caused by seasonal monsoon rains and an offshore typhoon.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila appealed for unity to meet the challenges of the disaster, which affected more than 500,000 people, including nearly 41,000 who made it to 199 evacuation centers, reported the Catholic news portal ucanews.com.
"In this time of crisis, I'm appealing to everyone, let us help one another in little or big ways to lessen the pain of those who have suffered from this bad weather," Cardinal Tagle said in a radio broadcast.
"I hope this scourge of Mother Nature will result in deep cooperation among our people to ease the pain of those who may have lost their loved ones, their properties, homes," the cardinal said.
The Philippines News Agency reported late Aug. 20 that eight people had died, 41 were injured and four were missing because of the floods.
At the peak of the flooding Aug. 20, the government reported that more than half of Manila was under water, and people made their way through chest-high water to evacuation centers.
Joe Curry, Catholic Relief Services country representative to the Philippines, told Catholic News Service that assessment teams were preparing to begin visiting neighborhoods and evacuation centers Aug. 21 to determine where the need was greatest.
"Today, the rains were too heavy to send out staff," he said. "The areas around the office were flooded so we had to close the office."
Southern Manila was most affected, Curry said.
"The poorest people live in the flood-prone areas. (In) one area along the river, 12,000 were evacuated. Last year it was the same thing. Those families were displaced for several weeks," he said.
"It looks similar," Curry added.
The flooding follows the Aug. 17 collision of a ferry boat and a cargo ship in the waters off the Philippine central island of Cebu in which at least 50 people died.
Both ships were carrying a combined 800 passengers and crew, authorities said. The ferry sank quickly in about 150 feet of water and the cargo ship was damaged, according to official reports.
About 750 people were rescued while an additional 68 remained missing Aug. 19, according to authorities. Rescuers suspended the search for survivors because of high seas caused by the same storm that swamped Manila.
In a telegram to Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu City, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, said Pope Francis was saddened by the "tragic loss of life" in the accident.
"He assures all affected of his closeness in prayer and commends the victims to the loving mercy of almighty God," the cardinal's message said. "The Holy Father invokes divine strength and comfort upon the grieving families, the injured and those involved in the rescue efforts."