Torrential rains in the Philippines have forced nearly 20,000 people into makeshift camps closing schools, offices and the stock exchange.
Residents in eastern Manila, the capital, were evacuated on boats after authorities put nine provinces on alert due to severe flooding, with water rising heavily in some areas. Flood waters reached up to two metres, shutting down entire city blocks on Tuesday. At least 51 people have died in week-long rains throughout the Philippines from Typhoon Saola.
President Benigno Aquino said the government was doing everything it could to help. “Everybody who is supposed to do something is doing what he is supposed to do,” he told reporters after meeting with civil defence officials.
Residents of low-lying slums fled the huge shantytowns, lining Manila’s rivers and sewers for the safety of schools, gymnasiums and government buildings as the downpour generated by seasonal monsoons struck overnight.
The civil defence office said that while about 20,000 people fled to evacuation centres overnight, many more sought refuge in relatives’ homes.
Power was turned off in some parts of the capital as a precautionary measure as the waters seeped into electrical facilities, the city’s power distributor said.
Police said a landslide in the capital, caused by half a month’s worth of rain falling on the capital in the past 24 hours, left a man dead and six others missing.
Rescue efforts are now underway to help stranded residents. “The rain softened the soil and four houses were buried,” Maribel Mendoza of the local public safety office told the AFP news agency.
Bad weather from seasonal southwest monsoons has pounded Manila and nearby areas for over a week since Typhoon Saola brushed past the country’s north.
Government weather forecaster Bernie de Leon said that in the 24 hours to Tuesday morning, 323 millimetres of rain fell on the capital, compared to an average monthly rainfall of 504 millimetres for August.