MANILA - The Philippines, battered by at least 20 typhoons a year and deadly landslides, has drawn up a map of its disaster zones, the country's environment minister said Wednesday.
The online geo-hazard map covers more than 1,600 municipalities nationwide, and will allow individuals, local governments and developers to check whether their properties are in danger zones, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said.
"Everyone can just go to the website and check the hazards pertaining to their locality," Paje told reporters.
"It says there (in the map), what is the permanent danger zone, what is hazardous and what are the low-lying areas."
The online map has been in the works since about 2006 but the urgency of the task was made clear only after tropical storm Ketsana struck the Philippine capital a year ago, bringing massive flooding and landslides.
About 80 percent of the capital was underwater as Ketsana dumped the heaviest rains in 40 years, triggering a humanitarian crisis that affected up to 10 million people, aid agencies said.
A second typhoon struck the country a week after Ketsana, and the storms left over 1,000 dead between them.
Paje noted that despite previous government warnings to leave areas considered dangerous, several communities in mountainous regions were buried by landslides triggered by Ketsana.
However Paje said the national government was not going to forcibly move people from dangerous places, stressing that it was up to the local governments to take what measures they think are necessary.
Tropical storms, floods, landslides, and maritime disasters killed nearly 2,000 people across the Philippines in 2009, the government said.
The archipelago in both the region's typhoon belt and on the Pacific "ring of fire" which brings frequent storms and quakes. Poor infrastructure and numerous unsafe sea vessels also result in frequent tragedies.