Massive flooding hit the Philippine capital on Tuesday as typhoon winds and rains isolated the historic old city where residents waded in waist-deep waters, dodging tree branches and debris. At least seven people were killed.
Pictured: Residents living beside a river carry belongings as they evacuate to higher grounds in Navotas, north of Manila, Philippines, as Typhoon Nesat hits the country. (Aaron Favila/Associated Press)
Authorities ordered more than 100,000 people across the country to shelter from Typhoon Nesat’s rains and wind gusts of up to 170 km/h. Schools and offices were shuttered, and thousands were stranded by grounded flights and ferries kept in ports.
The typhoon made landfall before dawn over eastern mountainous provinces of Isabela and Aurora, which face the Pacific Ocean, then headed inland through farmlands north of Manila, the government weather bureau said. It was packing sustained winds of 140 km/h.
The first reported death was a one-year-old who drowned in the central island province of Cataduanes after falling into a river, the government disaster agency reported. As the typhoon moved into Manila, a mother and child were killed after their house was hit by a falling tree in the suburb of Caloocan, and four were reported killed by a collapsing wall in the suburb of Valenzuela.
Four fishermen were missing while more than 50 others were rescued along eastern shores after their boats overturned in choppy seas. Forecasters warned of four-metre high waves.
Along downtown Manila’s baywalk, cars and buses were stuck and residents waded through floodwaters as waves as high as palm trees washed over the seawall, turning a six-lane highway into a huge brown river. Sidewalks and entrances to buildings were swamped and vehicles struggled to navigate the narrow streets.
Manila Hospital moved patients from its ground floor, where waters were neck-deep, spokeswoman Evangeline Morales said. Hospital generators were flooded and the building had no power since early Tuesday.
Visibility in the city was poor, with pounding rains obscuring the view. Emergency workers were evacuating river areas in the city that are notorious for flooding.
An Associated Press photographer said soldiers and police in trucks were moving thousands of residents, mostly women and children, from the Baseco shanty facing Manila port after many houses were washed away. Male family members were reluctant to leave saying they wanted to guard their property.
Residents in one neighbourhood of Quezon City, a Manila suburb, were fleeing their homes due to rising water from the nearby San Mateo River, radio reported. In the financial district of Makati, a billboard fell on two cars and a bus, causing injuries.
With its immense 650-kilometre cloud band, the typhoon threatened to foul weather across the entire main island of Luzon as it moves across the Philippines toward the South China Sea late Wednesday or early Thursday toward southern China.
Heavy downpours and winds prompted the closure of government offices, schools and universities in the capital, while scores of domestic flights were cancelled and inter-island ferries grounded, stranding thousands. The Philippine Stock Exchange and U.S. Embassy were also closed Tuesday. Waters at the gates of the embassy compound, which is located along Manila Bay, reached chest-deep.
A tornado in Isabela’s Maconancon town ripped off the roofs of at least five houses, injuring two people, police said.
Power was cut in many parts of Luzon, including in Manila, where hospitals, hotels and emergency services used generators. Tree branches and torn tarpaulins littered the flooded streets. Traffic was light as most people stayed indoors.
About 112,000 people were ordered to leave their homes in five towns prone to flash floods and landslides in central Albay province. By Monday, more than 50,000 had moved to government-run evacuation centres and relatives’ homes, officials said.
“We can’t manage typhoons, but we can manage their effects,” Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said.
Source: The Associated Press