The Philippines awash in Parma's relentless rain
Arriving a week after Typhoon Ketsana hit, the typhoon was downgraded to a tropical depression but remains a deadly force as it continues to pour rain onto a saturated country.
"The province of Pangasinan is literally underwater," says Sister Rosanne Mallillin, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines.
A BBC photo essay shows dramatic scenes of helicopter rescues, residents stranded on a roof top and water covering farmland and villages.
According to a related BBC news story, Lt Col Ernesto Torres of the National Disaster Coordinating Council told Reuters news agency that 30,000 people had been evacuated in Pangasinan province and 60 percent to 80 percent of the land was flooded. Landslides and flooding in neighboring Benguet province have resulted in at least 120 deaths and thousands of people forced from their homes.
For the past week, Parma has been hovering over the northern part of the main island of Luzon. With each additional day of rain, rivers have been rising. Now they are overflowing and fed further by the release of water from San Roque Dam to ease accumulating pressure.
Sister Rosanne has been contacting dioceses in Pangasinan to determine immediate needs. According to Caritas' social action directors, who coordinate the agency's local relief and development activities, this latest round of flooding has washed out roads, breached dikes and swept away bridges in the province.
In the diocese of Alaminos, at least 100 families living on the coast had to evacuate and are now seeking refuge in a school. In the diocese of Urdaneta, flood waters rose as high as the second floors of commercial buildings. A bridge connecting two towns has also collapsed.
Dozens of towns are flooded up to rooftops, and many houses close to rivers have washed away. Diocesan staff have been using their Lenten Fund to help feed displaced families, but remain critically short of supplies.
Tomorrow CRS and Caritas Philippines staff will attempt to travel to the province for an initial damage assessment. Already, these partners have provided emergency food to more than 30,000 people in the greater Manila area and are now distributing kits of household necessities to 5,000 of the most-affected families.
- Reported by Debbie DeVoe, CRS Regional Information Officer, from the Philippines