'State of calamity' declared ahead of new storm

After deadly floods killed almost 300 people and affected over three million more last week, President Gloria Arroyo (photo) is preparing the nation for a typhoon, expected on Saturday, by declaring a nationwide "state of calamity".


AFP - President Gloria Arroyo on Friday placed the entire Philippines under a "state of calamity," as a powerful typhoon threatened more devastation following deadly floods, her spokesman said.

Spokesman Cerge Remonde said the move would help the nation prepare for Typhoon Parma, expected to hit the north of the country on Saturday.

Under a "state of calamity," local authorities can use emergency funds and the national government has expanded powers such as price controls.

Large areas of the Philippines, including the capital Manila, are already under a state of calamity after they were hit by tropical storm Ketsana last weekend, claiming 293 lives and affecting more than three million people.

"(But) it is much better if the whole country (is under this state) so that local governments are prepared," Remonde told reporters.

Arroyo had already ordered the evacuation of residents from riverside and low-lying areas in the provinces that are in the path of Parma.

Parma, packing gusts of 230 kilometres (145 miles) an hour, was forecast to hit rural areas in the north of the Philippines' main island of Luzon on Saturday morning.

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