A storm that brought torrential monsoon rains which flooded much of the Philippine capital gained strength and battered the country’s northernmost provinces yesterday with heavy downpours and strong winds.
The national disaster agency reported that more than half a million people were affected by Tropical Storm Fung-Wong in metropolitan Manila and nearby provinces, forcing about 90,000 people to evacuate. At least five have been killed.
The agency had no immediate reports of the conditions in the northern Philippine region.
Governor Imee Marcos of Ilocos Norte on the northwest section of the main island of Luzon said fierce winds and heavy rains battered her province for more than 12 hours, blowing away roofs, toppling trees and flooding highways.
“I am basically holed up in my bedroom with a generator and several computers and telephones because I can’t even cross the street,” she told reporters yesterday by telephone from the provincial capital of Laoag.
She said floodwaters and fallen trees have cut off some highways to her province. Rescuers were headed to those trapped by the flooding and relief supplies were being distributed, she said.
“Every time there is a little rain we have trouble, and now this is more than a little rain so it has really been difficult,” Marcos said, adding that the last time the province experienced something similar was 10 years ago.
At least 37,000 people in the capital alone were displaced on Friday in one of the worst floods in the sprawling metropolis of 12 million in recent years.
The rain and an unrelated radar malfunction combined to divert, delay or cancel dozens of domestic and international flights at Manila’s airport. Government offices in the capital and 15 provinces were closed on Friday and the Philippine Stock Exchange suspended trading.
Government forecasters said nearly a month’s worth of rain fell overnight.
Meteorologist Aldczar Aurelio said the storm, which made landfall in northern Cagayan province east of Ilocos Norte with top winds of 100kph, enhanced the seasonal southwest monsoon winds and clouds from the Indian Ocean and Australia and dumped heavy rain over the capital area.
He said 26.8cm of rain fell on the capital in a 24-hour period ending early on Friday. That was more than half the amount that caused massive flooding in Metro Manila in 2009, the worst in 40 years.
Forecasters said the storm was over the Luzon Strait yesterday, with sustained winds of 105kph and gusts of up to 135kph.
It was expected to head toward Taiwan and southern Japan today.
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