Storm-ravaged Philippines hit by typhoon, 11 killed

Storm strikes again: Residents attempt to reconstruct their destroyed house on the lakeshore of Laguna lake, Tatay Rizal, east of Manila yesterday. Picture: AFP

Sunday, November 1, 2009

TYPHOON Mirinae smashed through the Philippines overnight, killing 11 people and worsening floods in areas that were struggling to recover from recent deadly storms, officials said yesterday.

The typhoon, packing winds of up to 185 kilometres (115 miles) an hour, was the third major storm to hit the Philippines' main island of Luzon in just five weeks, with the previous two claiming more than 1,100 lives.

In Manila, areas that have been flooded since Tropical Storm Ketsana struck in late September were hit with more heavy rain, while residents in other districts were forced onto their roofs to escape rising waters.

"We need help because the waters have risen. We need rubber boats and choppers," Ariel Magcales, the mayor of Santa Cruz town on Manila's outskirts, said in a radio interview.

"Some people are on the roofs of their houses."

Military and police rescue boats worked to save people who were trapped by a flash flood, officials said. One man was found dead and his one-year-old baby was missing after they were washed away while trying to cross an overflowing creek in a rural area on the outskirts of Manila, the military said.

Three people were reported dead and five others were missing in Laguna province just south of Manila, the local disaster monitoring office said.

Seven people died in the Bicol region, south of Manila, mostly from flash floods, local disaster monitoring officials said.

Another man was missing from a Manila slum district after his hut was washed away, while two others were missing in Batangas province south of Manila after their car fell into a river when a bridge collapsed, said civil defence spokesman Ernesto Torres.

Tropical Storm Ketsana, which struck on September 26, caused massive flooding in Manila. Outlying districts that are home to more than a million people were expected to remain flooded into the New Year even before Mirinae hit.

Navy and coast guard boats had been sent to Santa Cruz to rescue people, according to Torres, who said Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro was heading to the area to check on the extent of flooding and damage.

"The waters were really high. It was like a flash flood. It was waist deep in our area but in other areas it went as high as the rooftops," said traffic director Marlon Albay.

The highway to the town was covered by knee-high waters, preventing smaller vehicles from reaching it and prompting the military to send huge trucks to help residents, according to an AFP photographer.

Hundreds of residents in these areas were seen wading through the dirty waters.

Other towns in Laguna reported flooding, along with areas in the Bicol region further to the south, Torres said.

However, more than 115,000 people had been evacuated from vulnerable regions before the typhoon hit, which likely prevented more deaths, Torres said.

The typhoon caused power outages and knocked down trees across many areas of Manila.AFP