Survivors of flooding from Tropical Storm Ketsana in the Philippines struggled with mud and filth in their homes as the death toll rose to 240, officials said.
Relief teams waded through knee-deep mud and putrid water to help nearly half a million people displaced by the floods, the Philippine Star reported.
“We are concentrating on massive relief operations. (But) the system is overwhelmed, local government units are overwhelmed,” National Disaster Coordinating Council Director Anthony Golez told reporters.
The BBC quoted the government as saying 240 people are known to have died in the disaster. Foreign aid has been sought to help some 375,000 living in makeshift shelters.
Manila and neighboring areas with a total population of about 12 million were the worst hit by the storm, the Star reported. Some areas remained under several feet of water because of inadequate drainage systems and infrastructure facilities including telephone and power services were out of service.
Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro expressed concern about supplies running out, which would make the situation worse.
The big jump in the death toll was partly due to more than 90 deaths being recorded in Manila.
“My house is super, super messy,” a woman in the Manila suburb of Pasig City told CNN, complaining about the mud left behind by receding floodwaters. It is “really smelly,” she said.
There were also concerns about looting, hoarding of essential commodities and outbreak of diseases.
Philippine President Gloria Arroyo warned hoarders would be punished, Manila Times reported.
“Let us unite through our tradition of sharing and taking care of one another,” she said in a statement.
Enlisted men from the U.S. base joined in the rescue effort, using a helicopter, rubber boats and night capability equipment.