The Philippines shut down government offices, financial markets and schools in the capital and nearby areas as monsoon rains, or habagat, intensified by Tropical Storm Mario (international code name Fung-Wong), caused widespread flooding.
Mario has made landfall over Cagayan province in northern Philippines, with maximum winds of 85 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 100 kph, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said. The Manila Electric Co. cut power in flooded areas to prevent accidents, Spokesman Joe R. Zaldarriaga said.
The capital and nearby provinces of Rizal and Bulacan are under the highest rainfall warning of red, which means “severe flooding is expected,” Pagasa said as of 9 a.m. The monsoon rains dumped 268 millimeters (10.6 inches) of water overnight, weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said in an interview with ABS-CBN. In September 2009 Typhoon Ondoy (international code name Ketsana) dumped 455 mm of water in 24 hours.
The Philippines, battered by an average of 20 cyclones yearly that form over the Pacific Ocean, is the most at risk nation globally from tropical storms after Japan, according to research company Maplecroft. Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan), the strongest storm ever to hit land and the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, killed more than 6,200 people in the Philippines last November and left more than a thousand missing.
By afternoon, at least four persons were reported killed in Quezon City and in Caloocan City, as floodwaters continued to swell due to continuous heavy rains, trapping residents in other cities inside their homes and stranding thousands of passengers on the streets.
The massive flooding, which turned major thoroughfares in the capital into temporary rivers, caught mostly government employees on the road after Malacanang, through Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr., failed to suspend works in government offices at the right time.
Hundreds of passengers, who took the MRT Line 2 and were supposed to disgorge at the V. Mapa station in Santa Mesa, Manila, were forced to stay at the station as the stretch of Aurora Boulevard could not be waded through with its high waters.
The flooding was even worsened in Northern Metro Manila by the spilling of the La Mesa Dam, prompting officials to evacuate thousands of residents in barangays near the stretch of Tullahan River in Valenzuela, Caloocan and Quezon City.
Disaster officials scrambled to send rubber boats and military trucks as trapped residents and stranded commuters appealed for rescue, while evacuations were ongoing in different areas around Metro Manila.
The flooding inundated most of Metro Manila, including areas in Marikina City, Manila, Pasay, Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela, Cainta, Makati, Pasig, Paranaque and Mandaluyong. In some areas, the waters had gone up to more than six feet and submerged houses. Cainta and Marikina have declared a state of calamity.
It also forced the cancellation of classes in all levels, with some local chief executives even extending the suspension until today.
Mario brought widespread rainfall of as much as 8 inches in Southeast Luzon and Eastern Visayas, with a potential to become a stronger typhoon also threatening Taiwan, South Korea and Japan in the coming days, Accuweather said on its web site. Torrential rains may dump as much as 10 inches of rain in areas north of the capital, Accuweather.com meteorologist Jim Andrews said.
More than 1,200 families are in evacuation centers in Metro Manila and several provinces, the social welfare department said on Twitter.
Thirteen passengers, including crew members of MV Gloria 10, were rescued yesterday morning after the vessel capsized because of big waves on its way to Sorsogon province, Police Chief Inspector Renato Aban Ramos said in e-mailed statement. At least three people died after MV Maharlika-2 sank off the central coast on September 13.
At least six international flights were diverted to Cebu province and Clark airport in Pampanga because of the weather, the transportation department said on its Twitter account. Several local flights have been canceled, it said. The radar at the Manila airport malfunctioned, ABS-CBN reported.
Gates at two dams on the main island of Luzon have been opened to reduce pressure on their walls, it said. La Mesa Dam in Quezon City has reached spilling level and nearby residents have been told to evacuate, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported. Traffic snarled at the northern portion of the capital as flooding stalled vehicles.
A week ago, Typhoon Helen (international code name Kameigi) killed at least four people and damaged P618 million ($14 million) of farm output, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Typhoon Glenda (international code name Rammasun), with maximum winds of 150 kph and gusts of 170 kph, hit the Philippine capital and nearby provinces in July, killing at least 106 people and halting air and sea travel. Yolanda packed maximum winds of 315 kph. Bloomberg News