MANILA (AFP) – At least four people died and six were missing after a major storm caused flooding in and around Manila yesterday, 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 southeast 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 Southeast Asian archipelago, which endures about 20 such storms each year.
The storm, locally codenamed “Maring”, hit the eastern town of Mauban before moving northwest 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 Noriel Habana, head of the city’s disaster management office.
“In previous floodings, we had pre-emptive evacuation. It just so happened it was a flash flood and they had no time to react,” he told AFP.
Forecaster Renito Paciente said Maring, packing gusts of 100 kilometres per hour, was moving at just 15 kilometres per hour, worsening the flooding.