Typhoon Mirinae smashed through the Philippines overnight, killing at least one person and worsening floods in areas already struggling to recover from recent deadly storms, officials said today. One man was found dead and his one-year-old baby was missing after they were washed away while trying to cross an overflowing creek in a rural area on the outskirts of Manila, the nation's capital, the military said.
Another man was missing from a Manila slum district after his hut was washed away, said civil defence spokesman Ernesto Torres. The typhoon, which had maximum winds of 185 kilometres an hour, was the third major storm to hit the Philippines main island of Luzon in just five weeks, with the previous two claiming more than 1,100 lives. Tropical Storm Ketsana, which struck on September 26, caused massive flooding in Manila and outlying districts populated by more than a million people were expected to be remain flooded into the New Year even before Mirinae hit.
In Laguna province to the south of Manila that was one of the worst affected by Ketsana, people were again forced onto their rooftops today to escape floodwaters. "We need help because the waters have risen. We need rubber boats and choppers," the mayor of Santa Cruz town, Ariel Magcalas, said in a radio interview. "Some people are on the roofs of their houses." Navy and coastguard boats had been sent to the town to rescue people, according to Torres, who said the defence secretary Gilberto Teodoro was heading to the area to check on the extent of flooding and damage.
The main road to the town was covered by knee-high waters, preventing smaller vehicles from reaching it, according to an AFP photographer. Hundreds of residents in these areas were seen continuing to go about their daily chores, wading through the stagnant waters. Other towns in Laguna reported flooding along with areas in the Bicol region further to the south, Mr Torres said. He added that more than 115,000 people had been evacuated from vulnerable areas before the typhoon hit, which likely prevented more deaths.
The typhoon caused power outages and knocked down trees across many areas of Manila, a sprawling city of 12 million people. It also forced flights to be suspended today morning from Manila's international airport. Ferries, a popular form of transport in the South-east Asian archipelago, were also cancelled, ruining travel plans for many who were hoping to head to their hometowns for the All Saints' Day long-weekend public holiday.
Early this morning the typhoon had left Luzon and was charted 120km west of Manila over the Lubang islands and moving away from the country at 22km an hour, the government weather station said. "The worst is over for metro Manila," said weather forecaster Nathaniel Cruz. * AFP