BEIJING, Aug. 4--Rain and flooding have deluged large swaths of Asia, killing hundreds of people in the past few weeks and leaving millions homeless.
The island of Luzon in the Philippines reeled under six feet of water after four days of torrential downpours. At least 54 people were confirmed dead in the Philippines and more fatalities were expected.
"Mother, please help . . . the mountain might still move," a girl sobbed, after soldiers rescued her from a landslide that tore a chunk out of a hillside housing development in Manila's Antipolo district, Reuters reported. At least 18 people died in the collapse.
Since the beginning of the deluge, at least 35 people have been killed and 25,000 people left homeless in South Korea, 24 have died in Vietnam, and five have died in Thailand. North Korea's state-run media said late Tuesday that floods in that isolated communist country left "no small loss of lives," while the International Red Cross said 42 North Koreans were killed, prompting authorities to warn of worsening food shortages, Reuters reported. North Korea is in its fifth year of acute food shortages caused by massive floods and economic mismanagement.
Floods also left 1,000 people homeless in Thailand and sent people in Cambodia scurrying to their rooftops.
In China, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies issued a statement saying that flooding in the Yangtze River valley has left almost 1.8 million homeless and more than 400 dead. The aid agency said it was launching an appeal for help in a disaster that could worsen.
"The fear is that due to the length of the flood season in China, we haven't seen the worst of it yet," Red Cross official Jim Robertson said.
So far in China, about 66 million people have been affected by the floods, which began in June. Chinese media reports have intimated that a major factor in floods there has been corruption related to shoddy work on dikes and embankments, leaving them vulnerable to collapse. Last year, massive floods in central China killed thousands and affected one-quarter of China's 1.3 billion people.
In the Philippines, President Joseph Estrada promised an investigation into the collapse of the housing development, which is run by a Japanese businessman.
The middle-income subdivision, where houses are built on terraces carved from a hillside, looked like it had been hit by an earthquake. Twenty-five houses were destroyed, more than 200 were damaged and about a dozen cars were crushed, press reports said. One woman who took her children to safety was crushed when she came back for her car.
"I was able to run because I was near the door," said one survivor, Victoria Sombardo. "But my husband and two children were left behind."
The rain in Manila eased today but many areas of that sprawling Asian capital were swamped and a large dam on the outskirts of the city of 10 million people was overflowing into a river.
So far in the Philippines, the floods have affected the homes of more than 500,000 people, 70,000 of whom fled to evacuation centers.
In South Korea, 28 people were missing and 98,800 acres of rice paddies were flooded. The deluge also washed away about 100 graves in cemeteries north of Seoul. The sun came out today for the first time in four days as the latest storm moved out of the country toward North Korea and China.