September 26, 2009
MANILA (AFP) - At least nine people were reported dead or missing in massive floods in the Philippine capital as tropical storm Ketsana lashed the eastern side of the country on Saturday, radio reports said.
The government declared Manila and numerous provinces to be in a "state of calamity," Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said, as heavy rains brought by the storm caused the worst flooding seen in the capital in some 20 years.
A wall, weakened by floodwaters, collapsed in a suburb of Manila, killing a father and child while four children drowned in flooding elsewhere in the city, radio station DZMM said.
Three other people were swept away by a swollen river outside the capital, it said.
Over 1,800 people were forced to flee their homes and take refuge in evacuation centres due to rising waters, the civil defence office said.
Flooding was reported in many districts with waters in some areas reaching as high as the rooftops of one-storey buildings, the civil defence office said.
The storm, bearing winds of 85 kilometres (53 miles) per hour with gusts of 100 kph, hit the main island of Luzon near the town of Infanta at about 0200 GMT Saturday, moving west at 19 kilometres per hour, the weather station said.
Government weather forecaster Gener Quitlong said the equivalent of one month's worth of rain fell on the city in less than a day.
"We knew there would be rain but not like this," Quitlong told reporters.
One of the three airport terminals in Manila was forced to cancel and divert flights after the flooding hampered its electrical system.
Local officials interviewed on radio said they were moving to evacuate more of their residents.
Huge traffic jams clogged the roads in the capital as floodwaters caused many vehicles to stall.
Local officials made appeals on air, asking rescue agencies to send rubber boats to rescue stranded people.
In a suburb of Manila, residents in a flooded area were seen rescuing children from rooftops by placing them in inflated inner tubes before dragging them to higher ground.
The second level of a three-step storm alert was raised over the eastern provinces of Luzon while the first level alert was hoisted over metropolitan Manila and surrounding areas, the government said.
The storm is expected to move west, across the main island of Luzon, before exiting the country early Sunday.
An average of 20 typhoons and storms enter the Philippines from the Pacific Ocean over the eastern seaboard every year.