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Philippines ramps up flood relief efforts
Efforts are under way in the Philippines to help hundreds of thousands of people affected by deadly floods that have paralysed the capital, Manila, and nearby areas.
Officials appealed to volunteers to help distribute supplies to almost 300,000 people at emergency shelters.
At least 19 people have died after a month's worth of rain fell over two days, causing landslides and floods.
A state of calamity has been declared in parts of Manila and other areas.
Almost two million people across 30 cities in 16 provinces have been affected by the floods, according to a report from the government's disaster management agency.
"Of the above total affected, 11,079 families/538,445 persons are currently served inside and outside evacuation centres," it said.
Almost 300,000 people were being housed in 488 evacuation centres, while other displaced people were with friends and relatives.
Donations of cash, canned food, bottled water, medicine, clothes, blankets and hygiene kits were being accepted by various organisations assisting in relief efforts.
Benito Ramos, head of the country's disaster response agency, said that the floods could worsen.
"It will take days a few more days to recover, assuming the rain stops now," he said. "But if more rain is dumped, then no one can tell."
"The situation is very dynamic, we need more people to help out in this massive relief effort," Sheila Alinsangan, executive assistant to Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, was quoted by Agence-France Presse news agency as saying.
President Benigno Aquino has ordered the country's trade department to make sure that prices of basic goods remain unchanged in affected areas, local media report.
A number of roads in the capital have remained flooded. Dams and waterways are also still being closely monitored as they reached critical levels, the government said.
The floods left people stranded in their homes all over the city. Rescuers have been trying to reach them by boat but some have refused to leave, scared their possessions will be taken by looters.
Manila and the northern Philippines have been hit by severe weather since Typhoon Saola struck just over a week ago.
Typhoon Ketsana hit the Philippines in September 2009, causing flooding that killed more than 400 people.
Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2012 BBC
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