x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

More storm havoc for Philippines

Areas in and around the capital have been deluged just weeks after wild weather brought widespread death and destruction.

Residents wade through floodwaters brought about by typhoon Mirinae on Saturday, October 31, 2009.
Residents wade through floodwaters brought about by typhoon Mirinae on Saturday, October 31, 2009.

MANILA // Twelve people were killed and many reported missing yesterday after Typhoon Mirinae dumped more misery on the Philippines just weeks after back-to-back storms left more than 900 people dead, millions homeless and caused damage in excess of US$1billion (Dh3.67bn).

Three deaths were reported in Laguna province near Manila and seven from the Bicol region, according to the National Disaster Co-ordinating Council. Two were reported killed in Muntinlupa City. All of those who died drowned in flash floods. The council said about 115,000 people where affected by the typhoon. Mirinae (the local name is Santi) hit central Luzon yesterday morning, uprooting trees and causing minor flooding in low-lying areas in and around Manila.

International and local airlines diverted flights from Manila and all ferry services were halted. Large parts of Manila were without electricity for most of the morning after high winds brought down power lines. The power cut also forced part of the city's light rail transit system to be closed for most of the morning until power was restored. Mirinae was the third tropical storm or typhoon to hit the Philippines in six weeks.

In late September, Tropical Storm Ketsana dumped 117mm of rain on Manila in just six hours. It was the highest amount of rain recorded in the metropolis of 12 million. More than 80 per cent of the city and surrounding provinces were flooded and many parts of Manila will remain so for at least the next three to six months. Blocked drains and canals, silt-filled streams and rivers and mountains of rubbish dumped into waterways over the years by squatters were all blamed for the flooding.

Mirinae hit south of Manila just after midnight with winds gusting up to 160kph. According to the weather bureau, up to 20mm of rain was dumped in an hour as the typhoon made its way across central Luzon. The coastguard grounded 45 ferries in key ports, stranding thousands of people returning to the provinces for All Saints' Day, when relatives of the dead gather at grave sites for picnics in this largely Roman Catholic country.

Many Manila residents concerned about a possible repeat of the flooding brought by Ketsana made their way to evacuation centres during the night. Disaster relief authorities said there was some flooding in Laguna province, south-east of Manila, and in the capital itself but nothing on the scale of late September, which saw the worst flooding in more than 40 years. The president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, ordered disaster management teams to carry out immediate relief and rehabilitation work in areas affected by Mirinae.

Mrs Arroyo toured some of the worst-affected areas around Metro Manila yesterday morning to inspect the damage caused by the typhoon. According to the weather bureau, by midafternoon, Mirinae's winds had weakened to 105kph near the centre, with gusts of up to 135kph, and was moving out to the South China Sea. The storm is forecast to move farther away from the country and is expected to be 650km west south-west of Manila by this afternoon.

The US Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center and the Japan Meteorological Agency forecast the typhoon will hit Vietnam by tomorrow morning. @Email:foreign.desk@thenational.ae