MANILA (AFP) - At least four people died and six were missing after a major storm caused flooding in and around Manila on Tuesday (Sept 12), forcing schools, government offices and businesses to shut down.
A 12-year-old girl who drowned in a rain-swollen river in a Manila suburb and a three-month old baby who was crushed by a landslide south-east of the Philippine capital were among the victims, local officials said.
Most of the dead and missing were poor people forced to live in identified “danger zones” despite government warnings of the risks they face during storms.
“Our local authorities had continuously warned them that their place was really prone to landslides but they insisted on staying,” said civil defence officer Ronnie Mateo after the rain caused a landslide that fatally buried two teenage brothers just east of Manila.
The tropical depression, which left some people wading through chest-deep waters outside the capital, was the latest to hit the South-east Asian archipelago, which endures about 20 such storms each year.
The storm, locally codenamed “Maring”, hit the eastern town of Mauban before moving north-west across the main island of Luzon and passing just beside Manila, the government weather station said.
In Calamba City, south of Manila, a flash flood washed away a riverside shanty, leaving six inhabitants, including a two-year-old, missing.
“They were informal settlers, living beside a river. There was a flash flood and it washed out their two storey-house,” said Mr Noriel Habana, head of the city’s disaster management office.
“In previous floodings, we had preemptive evacuation. It just so happened it was a flash flood and they had no time to react,” he said.
Forecaster Renito Paciente said Maring, packing gusts of 100 kilometres per hour, was moving at just 15 kilometres per hour, worsening the flooding.
“Because it moves slowly, it can bring more rain over an area,” he said.
Thousands of people were ordered by local governments to evacuate from low-lying, coastal and landslide-prone areas as rain pounded the area.
The Philippine islands are often the first major landmass to be hit by storms that generate over the Pacific Ocean, bringing frequent death and misery.
In one of the worst recent incidents, 7,350 people were left dead or missing after super-typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines in November 2013.