Bloomberg News

Philippine Death Toll Rises as Flood Swamped 60% of Capital (1)

August 20, 2013

At least eight people were killed and more than 100,000 fled their homes amid heavy rains for a third day that swamped as much as 60 percent of the Philippine capital and nearby provinces.

Forty one are injured and four are missing as torrential rains overflowed dams and rivers and triggered landslides in provinces in the biggest island of Luzon, according to the latest bulletin of the disaster and risk-reduction agency. At least 20 percent of the Manila region remains submerged as of 7 p.m. from as much as 60 percent around midday, Office of Civil Defense spokesman Major Rey Balido said by phone.

President Benigno Aquino suspended work in government offices in Manila for a second day, prompting Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and exchanges to keep currency, bonds and stock markets closed. Five provinces including Cavite and Laguna have declared a state of calamity. Mayor Strike Revilla of Bacoor in Cavite, south of Manila, said the flooding in his town is worse than 2009 when typhoon Ketsana swamped Luzon and killed more than 400. A road leading to Aquino’s office was flooded, Aquino spokeswoman Abigail Valte said.

The monsoon rain is being enhanced by storm Trami, located 540 kilometers (336 miles) east of the northern province of Batanes as of 4 p.m. The Philippines, regularly battered by cyclones, topped a list of 10 countries most affected by natural disasters in 2012, with 2,360 deaths, according to a report by Brussels-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. Trami is forecast to head to Taiwan tomorrow.

Passenger vessel M/V Super Shuttle Ferry 10 encountered engine trouble after leaving the Bogo pier in Cebu and ran aground after it was dragged by strong monsoon winds, coast guard station commander Winiel Azcuna said. All 63 passengers were rescued, he said. On the Aug. 16 sea collision in Cebu, the worst Philippine maritime disaster in five years, 65 are confirmed dead, Azcuna said.

‘Shocking’

The weather bureau kept the rainfall alert at orange, the second-highest in a three-color scale as of 7:30 p.m., warning of “heavy to intense rain” and flooding.

“The extent of the coverage is shocking; there are torrential rains even in Ilocos Sur and Laguna,” Francis Tolentino, chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, told local radio DZMM. “After 3 days, the ground is saturated, a little rain will trigger floods.”

The current monsoon dumped 174 millimeters of water for 24 hours yesterday compared with 323 millimeters in August 2012 when almost half of the Manila region was submerged, Meno Mendoza, a government weather forecaster said in a phone interview. Typhoon Ketsana brought 455 millimeters of rain over a comparable 24-hour period, he said.

Latest Bulletin

Of the 131,000 who fled their homes, almost 41,000 are in evacuation centers and more than 90,000 people stayed with friends and relatives as floodwaters rose, while 32 homes were destroyed, according to the risk-reduction agency.

Roads leading to the airport were flooded earlier today, prompting the cancellation of 162 local and international flights, according to disaster agency’s latest report.

The La Mesa Dam overflowed and three other dams neared spilling level, the government’s 6 p.m. bulletin showed.

A mandatory evacuation was ordered near the Marikina river, one of the worst hit during Ketsana in 2009, after the water swelled to critical level, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said in a televised briefing. Sirens were sounded to ask residents to move to evacuation centers, according to a DZMM radio report.

Floods were as high as four feet in parts of Bulacan, north of the capital and in the city of Manila, some streets were submerged from waist down. In Cavite, Revilla said 50 of 73 villages are flooded up to chest level.

Video footage by ABS-CBN Corp. (ABS) show people trapped on their roofs or wading through floodwaters. Portions of the 24-kilometer Epifanio de los Santos Avenue that connects the capital to north and south provinces were submerged in waist-level water earlier today.

Cash Withdrawals

Bangko Sentral will service cash withdrawals of banks tomorrow during a public holiday so lenders can replenish their automated teller machines, Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla said in a statement. Lenders like Bank of the Philippine Islands, BDO Unibank Inc. (BDO) and Security Bank Corp. (SECB) said they opened branches not affected by flooding.

At least 15 people were killed a year ago when torrential rains flooded the Manila region and halted trading for a day on Aug. 7. Philippine Stock Exchange Chief Operating Officer Roel Refran told Bloomberg Television it’s been some time since the equities market faced such disruption.

“Two days in a row is totally extraordinary,” he said.

When trading resumes on Aug. 22, the exchange is prepared should share prices track the decline in the region, Refran said. Financial markets and offices are shut nationwide tomorrow for a holiday.

“The floods were deeper last year, but this current monsoon covered a wider area,” Balido said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Joel Guinto in Manila at jguinto1@bloomberg.net; Cecilia Yap in Manila at cyap19@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lars Klemming at lklemming@bloomberg.net


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