Nearly 15,000 evacuated from Manila amid heavy monsoon

The Philippines is the latest country to be hit by a series of extreme weather events

Philippine authorities have moved thousands of Manila residents out of their low-lying communities as heavy monsoon rain, compounded by a tropical storm, flooded the city and nearby provinces.

The national disaster agency said 14,023 people, most of them from a flood-prone Manila suburb, moved into evacuation centres on Saturday.

"We ask residents of affected areas to remain alert and vigilant, take precautionary measures, and co-operate with their respective local authorities," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

Harsh weather has hit several parts of the world in recent weeks, bringing floods to China, India and Western Europe, and heat waves to North America, raising fears about climate change.

The Philippines, a Southeast Asian archipelago of more than 7,600 islands, experiences about 20 tropical storms a year, but a warmer Pacific Ocean will make them more powerful and bring heavier rain, meteorologists say.

The country is also grappling with one of the worst outbreaks of Covid-19 in Asia and has tightened curbs to prevent the spread of the more infectious Delta variant.

In some parts of Manila, an urban sprawl of more than 13 million people, flood waters, in places waist-deep, cut off roads to light vehicles.

"We decided to evacuate early," said Luzviminda Tayson, 61, one of about 2,900 evacuees who were reminded to practise physical distancing as they took refuge in a primary school in Marikina city.

"We don't want the waters to rise and be caught."

Mr Roque said the public works ministry was busy clearing debris and landslides from roads.

"Some houses were flooded up to the roof," Humerlito Dolor, governor of Oriental Mindoro province south of the capital, told DZMM radio.

Manila was also shaken by a 6.7 magnitude earthquake that struck south of the capital early on Saturday.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said the epicentre of the earthquake was 16 kilometres south-west of Batangas province, at a depth of 116 km.

"The quake was deep so there is no tsunami," Renato Solidum, director of the agency, told DZRH radio station. "In Manila, the intensity 4.0 or 5.0 is strong but not yet destructive."

Updated: July 24th 2021, 11:33 AM