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SHAKE AND BLOW
Floods add misery after Philippine Muslim rebel siege
by Staff Writers
Zamboanga, Philippines (AFP) Oct 05, 2013


32 dead in India lightning strikes
Patna, India (AFP) Oct 07, 2013 - At least 32 people including nine children were killed over the weekend by lightning strikes in the eastern Indian states of Bihar and Jharkhand, officials said Monday.

"About 24 people including seven children were killed Saturday and Sunday by bolts of lightning across Bihar," State Disaster Management Minister Renu Kumari Kushwaha said.

In neighbouring Jharkhand, eight people including two children died, Puran Mahto, an official in the state's Dhanbad district said.

Torrential rains accompanied by strong winds uprooted trees, damaged houses and brought down power cables across the region on Sunday night.

Though lightning strikes during the June-October monsoon season are common, the weekend toll was unusually high. Villagers housed in bamboo-and-grass huts are generally most at risk.

Scores dead in recent SE Asia flooding
Phnom Penh (AFP) Oct 07, 2013 - More than 150 people have died in floods drenching swathes of Southeast Asia in recent weeks, officials said Monday, after a tree smashed into a 12th century temple at Cambodia's Angkor complex.

Heavy rains have waterlogged homes and farmland across the region as recent typhoons worsened the annual rainy season.

In Cambodia, the death toll from floods since mid-September stood at 83 on Monday, nearly half of them children, according to the National Disaster Management Committee.

More than 10,000 families have been evacuated, while hundreds of schools and dozens of homes have been deluged.

Heavy rain and strong wind also uprooted a 30 metre (100 foot) tree and sent it crashing into the ancient Preah Khan temple in the country's famed Angkor complex in northeastern Siem Reap province on Friday.

"The tree knocked part of the temple structure, causing some stones to fall off. But the temple itself did not collapse," said Im Sokrithy of the Apsara Authority which manages the World Heritage archaeological site.

In Thailand authorities said 34 people have been killed and 1.9 million have seen their homes or livelihoods damaged by the flooding.

Typhoon Wutip left a trail of destruction in Vietnam in late September, with high winds that ripped the roofs off nearly 200,000 houses according to state media. The country has seen some 40 deaths in flooding since early September.

Cambodia's floods have prompted the government again to cancel the annual water festival in front of the royal palace in Phnom Penh.

The festival, which usually draws millions of people, was also cancelled in 2011 and 2012, due to severe floods and the death of former King Norodom Sihanouk respectively.

More than 350 people were killed in a stampede on a bridge during the water festival celebration in 2010.

Heavy rains flooded evacuation centres in the southern Philippines, adding more misery for thousands of people displaced by a bloody Muslim rebel siege, officials said Saturday.

Almost a month after followers of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari besieged Zamboanga, over 116,000 people -- around one tenth of the port city's population -- are still sheltering in evacuation centres, where there is a shortage of toilets and medicine.

But government tents have been unable to withstand the heavy rain which has been falling since Friday, causing knee-deep floods said Adriano Fuego, the area's civil defence chief.

"The waters are as high as knee deep in some places. It is mostly muddy (there) and the people are getting soaked," Fuego said.

Of the 71,000 people sheltering at the main evacuation centre in the city's sports stadium, 46,000 have had to be moved from their tents to higher ground, while the rest sheltered in the elevated stands, Fuego said.

The government has begun constructing raised plywood shelters with tin roofs to replace the tents with fears that thousands will not be able to return home for months, he added.

"No evacuation centres have closed because they still cannot return to their neighbourhoods since the clearing operations are still going on," he said, referring to police and military searches in the siege area for unexploded ordnance, booby traps, dead MNLF fighters and possible rebel stragglers.

The government declared the rebel action crushed on September 28 with the release of the last of 195 hostages, but the areas where the fighting took place are still largely off-limits to civilians until they are cleared.

However the heavy rains have also affected clearing operations, said police spokesman Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca.

"It is flooding in a lot of places, even at our offices at the police camp," he said.

Zamboanga police on Friday brought in another MNLF straggler found in a ruined house.

Hajar Hajun, said "I have been hiding in the ceiling, surviving by drinking rain water. I was afraid to surrender for fear I would be killed."

He was among hundreds of heavily armed MNLF fighters who entered Zamboanga City on September 9 in an effort to disrupt government peace talks with a rival Muslim group.

They took residents hostage and set fire to about 10,000 houses during three weeks of fighting with soldiers and police.

The military said an estimated 206 MNLF fighters, 25 government troops and 13 civilians were killed in the violence.

Police are continuing their search for Misuari following a raid on his Zamboanga City home on Friday which recovered explosives and documents but failed to catch the MNLF leader, Huesca said.

Muslim rebels have been fighting since the 1970s for an independent or autonomous homeland in the south of the mainly Catholic Philippines. An estimated 150,000 people have died in the conflict.

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