More Rains Add to Philippines Flood Woes
The reported death toll rose to 16 as the flooding continued, according to state-run news
CNN Wire Staff
August 08, 2012MANILA, Philippines (CNN) -- Millions of people in the Philippines suffered further torrential rains Wednesday, as deadly floods claimed several more lives and kept many people from returning to their deluged homes.
Forecasters say still more rain is on the way, fueled by seasonal monsoon rains and a nearby tropical storm, but it should start to ease soon.
The reported death toll rose to 16 as the flooding continued, the state-run Philippines News Agency reported.
A landslide in the Manila suburb of Quezon City buried two houses Tuesday, leaving nine people dead and four others injured, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center. Three of the dead were children, PNA reported.
Seven more deaths were attributed to drowning and electrocution.
As of Wednesday night, the rain was still falling but was beginning to ease across portions of western Luzon, according to CNN forecaster Taylor Ward, a trend expected to continue over the next 24 to 48 hours.
The capital city of Manila has recorded 864 millimeters (34 inches) of rain in 72 hours, compared with an August average of just under 500 millimeters (20 inches). Some surrounding areas have been deluged by over 1 meter (39 inches) of rain in the same three-day period.
The latest downpours came on top of days of rain that had already drenched the area, with August generally the wettest month of the year.
Flooding will continue to be a problem even as the rains lessen, as there is just nowhere for the water to go, Ward said.
Some of the Manila region's 12 million residents returned to work Wednesday, with some stores reopening and heavy congestion on the sodden roads, but the real clean-up is expected to start Thursday.
"It's like a water world," Benito Ramos, head of the country's disaster agency, said of the city Tuesday, according to PNA.
The flooding has forced more than 780,000 people across the country from their homes, the disaster agency said. About 242,000 were staying in emergency shelters Tuesday night, according to the agency.
Many hoped to return to their homes Wednesday but further torrential rains in the afternoon were a setback to efforts to get back to normal.
It may be a while before people can safely leave the shelters, said CNN forecaster Mari Ramos.
An additional concern is that the water will take days, or perhaps weeks, to recede in the lower-lying areas, she said. There could also be further flooding "downstream" as the water drains through the flood plain in the southern portions of the metro area near Laguna de Bay.
This is an area that frequently suffers from serious flooding and was one of the hardest hit during the historic flooding that came with Tropical Storm Ketsana (local name Ondoy) in 2009, Ramos said.
Families who returned to their homes in parts of Quezon City, in metropolitan Manila, found fast-running waters sweeping piles of debris along flooded streets.
Some took to boats to try to recover valuables from the wreckage of their homes, or sought to bail out their flooded rooms with buckets.
CNN iReporter Amoulin Singh said the flooding and rains where he lives in Sampaloc, Manila, were the worst he had seen since Tropical Storm Ondoy walloped the country.
"There's been heavy rain for the past 24 hours and we probably get around 10 minutes of breathing room before the next downpour," Singh, a 28-year-old businessman, said Wednesday.
"The flood is knee-high and slowly rising -- it has entered almost all of the houses in the neighborhood. People are headed to convenience stores to stock on supplies. Everybody is in a bad spot right now."
Rescue requests continued to come in early Wednesday, including some people who were using Twitter to contact the authorities for help.
"Pregnant woman needs help! Staying on top of a roof," one Twitter user posted, followed by an address. "Please help BORRES FAMILY w/ 2y/o child!!," posted another.
Deep water in many parts of metropolitan Manila blocked roads, stranded cars and flooded homes.
In several areas, the water was waist deep or higher, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority said in its Twitter feed.
In an effort to save lives and make way for rescue and relief efforts, government offices and schools were closed Tuesday and Wednesday, the office of President Benigno Aquino said. Some schools will remain closed Thursday, PNA reported.
Work was also suspended at private offices around the capital region Tuesday.
The national railroad called off services, and many roads were under water. Some dams were beginning to overflow, putting more communities at risk, the authorities said.
The country's weather service -- the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration -- warned residents to expect more landslides and flash flooding Wednesday, and the authorities urged residents in low-lying areas to move to higher ground.
The latest deaths came on top of the 53 people who had already been killed across the Philippines by heavy wind and rain in the past few weeks.
The rain and flooding are the result of the normal summer monsoon enhanced by the effects of Tropical Storm Haikui, the Philippines weather service said. The storm made landfall on the east coast of China on Wednesday morning.
CNN iReporter Genhall Manua Chen in Shanghai, China, noticed the wind begin to pick up in the city around mid-morning local time, before the deluge from Tropical Storm Haikui began.
"There was a lot of preparation. I went downstairs at 4 p.m. and emergency workers were draining the streets and doing their jobs with drainage and transportation safety," he said. "Folks walking around seemed unfazed, but cautious of the weather."
The Philippines had already been lashed by heavy rain and wind in recent weeks resulting from Tropical Storm Saola, which plowed past it before hitting Taiwan and China at the end of last week.
In December, Tropical Storm Washi left more than 1,200 people dead after it set off flash floods that swept away entire villages in the southern Philippines.
CNN's Alex Zolbert in Manila; Jethro Mullen and Anjali Tsui in Hong Kong; and Laura Smith-Spark and Sarah Brown in London contributed to this report.