‘Pedring’ leaves 16 dead
Cebu had overcast skies and light rain yesterday but Metro Manila residents waded through waist-deep floodwaters and dodged flying debris as Typhoon Pedring struck before dawn, killing at least 16 people.
The typhoon sent waves as tall as palm trees crashing over seawalls.
Several flights to and from Manila were diverted to the Mactan International Airport due to bad weather, including a Korean Air flight from Incheon, South Korea.
The massive flooding came exactly a day after Manila held two-year commemorations for the nearly 500 people killed during 2009’s Typhoon Ondoy, which dumped a month’s rainfall in just 12 hours.
Most deaths occurred in Metro Manila, which already was soaked by heavy monsoon rains ahead of the storm, with more downpours and wind gusts of up to 150 kph.
Downtown areas along Manila Bay suffered their worst flooding in decades.
Typhoon Pedring hit ashore before dawn yesterday in eastern provinces and headed inland just north of Manila with up to an inch of rain per hour, half that of Typhoon Ondoy two years ago, said government forecaster Samuel Duran.
Electric power was shut down in wide areas of Metro Manila as a preventive measure by the Manila Electric Co.
The Philippine Stock Exchange and U.S. Embassy were closed.
Waters at the gates of the embassy compound reached chest-deep, and staff were told to stay home, spokeswoman Tina Malone said.
The Sofitel Philippine Plaza relocated its guests after flooding damaged areas of the high-end hotel on the shores of Manila Bay.
No guests or staff were injured.
President Benigno Aquino III, on a state visit to Japan, said he was confident that authorities were adequately responding to flooding. He said he believed power would be restored to most of Manila by yesterday afternoon.
However, most of downtown was in darkness as night fell and cell phone coverage was interrupted.
Along downtown Manila’s historic Baywalk on Roxas Boulevard, cars and buses were stuck, and residents struggled through floodwaters as waves washed over the seawall, turning a six-lane highway into a huge brown river. Sidewalks and buildings entrances were swamped.
In the financial district of Makati, a billboard fell on two cars and a bus, causing injuries.
The first reported death was a 1-year-old boy who drowned in Catanduanes province after falling into a creek, the government disaster agency reported. In Metro Manila, a mother and child were killed when their house was hit by a falling tree, and four were reported killed by a collapsing wall.
Two others drowned, while a man was buried in a landslide in Olongapo City and another died in traffic collision. Four girls and a baby were pinned to death by falling trees north of Manila, and three more children were missing.
Four people were unaccounted for in a landslide in mountainous Ifugao province, as were four fishermen while more than 50 others were rescued along eastern shores after their boats overturned in choppy seas. Forecasters warned of 12-foot-high waves.
The storm was expected to leave the Philippines late yesterday and head into the South China Sea toward southern China.
About 20 storms and typhoons visit the Philippines each year.
Some residents acted more quickly this time to evacuate homes as waters rose, including Marikina City where 2,000 people escaped the swelling river by flocking to an elementary school, carrying pets, TV sets, bags of clothes and bottled water.
“We can replace things, but not people’s lives,” said janitor Banny Domanais, arriving at the school with his wife and three young daughters.
Emergency workers evacuated river areas in Manila that are notorious for flooding.
In all, authorities ordered more than 100,000 people across the country to shelter from the storm’s sustained winds of up to 120 kph and its rains.
Seasonal monsoon rains ahead of the typhoon plus winds pushing seawater inland had worsened the situation, forecaster Duran told the AP.
“Land is saturated with rain so the next rain became run-off and was already floodwater,” he said./ap
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