Relentless rains submerged half of the sprawling Philippine capital, triggered a landslide that killed nine people and sent emergency crews scrambling to rescue tens of thousands of residents, some of whom called media outlets pleading for help.

The deluge, the worst to hit Manila since 2009 when hundreds died in rampaging flash floods, was set off by the seasonal monsoon that overflowed major dams and rivers in the city and surrounding provinces.

Manila and other parts of the country already were saturated from last week’s Typhoon Saola, which battered the capital and the north for several days before blowing away on Friday. That storm was responsible for at least 53 deaths.

“It’s like a water world,” Benito Ramos, head of the government’s disaster response agency, had said on Tuesday.

He said that the rains had flooded 50 per cent of metropolitan Manila on Monday evening, and that about 30 per cent remained under waist or neck-deep waters on Tuesday.

He urged the residents in areas prone to landslides and floods to stay in evacuation centres. Because the soil is saturated, even a little rain could be dangerous, he added.

“Now that it’s getting dark, I would like to repeat, if the rains are heavy you should be at the evacuation centres,” he said, warning that rescue operations are more difficult at night and could put responders at risk.

Manila’s weather bureau said a tropical storm off eastern China had intensified monsoon rains in the Philippines, which were forecast to last until Thursday.

In Manila’s suburban Quezon City, a landslide hit a row of shanties perched below a hill, burying nine people, according to Ramos.

Army troops and police dug frantically to save those buried, including four children, as surviving relatives and neighbours wept. All the victims were recovered, some whose bodies were found near an entombed shanty’s door as they apparently tried to flee.

(This article was published on August 8, 2012)
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