Heavy rains paralyze Manila, kill 9-A A +A
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
MANILA (8th Update 9:02 p.m.) -- Torrential rains in the Philippine capital triggered a landslide that killed nine people and sent government emergency crews scrambling Tuesday to rescue and evacuate tens of thousands of residents, some of whom were stranded on the roofs of their inundated homes.
Incessant downpours set off by the seasonal monsoon overflowed major dams and rivers in Manila and surrounding provinces and put authorities and troops on alert.
Metro Manila and other parts of the country already were saturated from last week's Typhoon Gener (international codename: Saola), which battered Manila and the north for several days before blowing away Friday. That storm was responsible for at least 53 deaths.
But Manila's weather bureau said a separate tropical storm off eastern China had intensified monsoon rains in the Philippines and was responsible for the latest deluge, which began Monday night and did not let up until Tuesday morning.
As a result, state of calamity was declared in flood-prone areas such as the cities of Malabon and Valenzuela, Masantol in Pampanga, Obando and Meycauayan in Bulacan and Cainta, Rizal. This will allow authorities to draw emergency funds that will be used in the rehabilitation of badly-affected areas.
In Manila's suburban Quezon City, a landslide hit a row of shanties along a road, killing nine, according to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Army troops and police dug frantically to save those buried, who included four children, as surviving relatives and neighbors wept. All the victims were later dug up, including a man whose body was found near an entombed shanty's door.
The fatalities were identified as Jethro Baylon, Jessica Baylon, Jayvee Baylon, Cecilia Baylon, Jayson Baylon, Joshua Castulo, Jezelle Joy Baylon, Jonica Castulo and Jonathan Castulo.
Flooded streets in Metro Manila. (Photos by Anna Lyn Talosig/Sunnex)
National police chief Nicanor Bartolome went to the scene and ordered all other slum dwellers to be evacuated from the dangerous area.
TV footage showed rescuers dangling on ropes to bring children and other residents to safety from flooded houses. Many residents trapped in their homes as floodwaters rose called radio and TV stations desperately asking for help.
"We need to be rescued," Josephine Cruz told dzMM radio as water rose around her house near a river and creek in Quezon City, saying she was trapped in her two-storey house with 11 other people, including her 83-year-old mother. "We can't get out because the floodwaters are now higher than people."
Vehicles and even heavy trucks struggled to navigate water-clogged roads, where hundreds of thousands of commuters were stranded overnight. Many cars were stuck in the muddy waters.
Malacañang earlier issued Memorandum Circular 33, signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, suspending government work and classes from pre-school to college. Work in private offices was also suspended.
The La Mesa dam, which supplies water to the capital of 12 million people, spilled excess water early Tuesday into the rivers flowing into Quezon City, as well as the neighborhoods of Malabon, Valenzuela and Caloocan, where several villages were submerged.
Along the swollen Marikina River, police were deployed to move more than 5,000 residents away from the riverbanks in what Vice Mayor Jose Cadiz said was an enforced evacuation.
President Benigno Aquino III called an emergency meeting of Cabinet officials and disaster-response agencies to deal with the widespread flooding.
He ordered officials to make sure all residents were accounted for in flooded villages and discussed how flooded hospitals can be helped in case they were hit by power outages.
In Metro Manila, 14,225 families representing 68,372 persons affected by massive flooding are currently being served in 107 evacuation centers, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said in a report.
The agency also provided 2,602 food packs worth P733,520 to local government units of Quezon City, Pasig, Valenzuela and Marikina to be distributed to evacuated residents.
Central Luzon, meanwhile, listed 5,278 affected families equivalent to 26,194 people from provinces of Bataan, Tarlac, Pampanga and Zambales.
The military, which was involved in the rescue work, cancelled several events due to the flooding, including an awarding of bounties to tipsters who helped troops capture al Qaeda-linked militants.
In 2009, massive flooding spawned by a typhoon devastated Manila and the surrounding areas and killed hundreds of residents in rampaging flash floods.
Data collated by the Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) of the Department of Science and Technology showed rains dumped by the southwest monsoon in 22 hours reached 472 millimeters, higher than Tropical Storm Ondoy's 455 millimeters.
However, Ondoy's intensity was still higher because it released 300 millimeters in just six hours, the NOAH said.
The state weather bureau said the current flooding was not as severe and weather may start to improve later this week.
Weather to improve Thursday
Weather forecaster Fernando Cada said Metro Manila remains on red warning as the southwest monsoon continues to bring heavy rainfall in the metropolis.
Red warning is the highest warning level in Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration's (Pagasa) three-tiered rainfall warning system and signifies need for communities to take the necessary precautionary measures so accidents can be avoided.
Pagasa issues a red warning when more than 30 millimeters of rain are experienced in an hour and is expected to continue to rise in the next two hours.
"There is no weather disturbance or low pressure area in the country…One of the factors that brought heavy rains in the country is the Typhoon Haikui, which is in southern Japan – this also triggered the southwest monsoon," Cada said.
Saola was the seventh of 20 storms expected to batter the Philippines this year. (AP/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)