Floods kill 10 forcing thousands to flee in Philippines

MANILA (Reuters) - Flash floods have killed at least 10 people in the central Philippines and forced tens of thousands to flee to higher ground after three days of heavy rain, the head of the local Red Cross said on Tuesday.

“Ten people have drowned,” said Richard Gordon, appealing for food, medicine, warm clothes and materials for temporary shelter. Three people were injured.

Gordon said nearly 30,000 families, or 140,000 people, have been affected as collapsed bridges, landslides and floodwaters isolated Eastern Samar province, a poor rural area facing the Pacific Ocean in the central Philippines.

Ben Evardone, the provincial governor, said many families were still trapped in interior villages after rising floodwaters caused rivers to swell and burst their banks.

“We cannot get to them because the only means of transportation is by boat,” he said.

Gordon said they were asking the military to open an airfield for a C-130 cargo plane to deliver relief goods.

Landslides and floods are common in the Philippines, which is lashed by about 20 typhoons each year. Information on casualties can be difficult due to poor communications and hard-to-reach disaster sites.

Environmental groups blame illegal logging for making flooding worse, particularly in the central Philippines, where more than 5,000 people died in 1991 in floods triggered by a typhoon.

In February 2006, about 1,000 people were buried alive when several days of heavy rain loosened soil from a barren mountain and covered a farming village on a central island.

Reporting by Manny Mogato, editing by Carmel Crimmins and Alex Richardson