World | Other World Stories

Rains pummel Philippines, China

Russia scrambles to contain record floods

  • AFP, AP
  • Published: 18:19 August 20, 2013
  • Gulf News

Manila: Flood-battered residents of the Philippine capital fled their homes or sat on rooftops on Tuesday as relentless monsoon rains, which have killed seven people, submerged more than half of Manila.

Streets turned into rivers with water above two-metres in some parts of the megacity of 12 million people, displacing more than 130,000 people and forcing countless others to wait out the storm in or on their flooded homes.

“We have had nothing to eat, nothing to wear. A few people went to houses on higher ground, but most of us had nowhere to go,” Dinah Claire Velasco, 44, a resident of a blue-collar coastal district on the outskirts of Manila said.

“My children and other people were able to seek refuge on the second floor of my house but a lot of others had to just sit on their roofs... We’re waiting for rescue, for help, even just food.”

At least 60 per cent of Manila was flooded on Tuesday morning, with some places enduring waters climbing as high as 2.1 metres, an official with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority told the briefing.

In one part of the capital, 47.5 centimetres of rain fell in the 24 hours to Monday morning, according to Esperanza Cayanan, a meteorologist in charge of Manila for the state weather forecaster.

In a potentially serious escalation the Marikina River, a key waterway that cuts through eastern Manila, began to overflow on Tuesday afternoon, and 20,000 people close by were ordered to evacuate, the local mayor, Del de Guzman, said.

Meanwhile, heavy rains brought by a typhoon triggered landslides in southern China that buried homes and vehicles and killed at least 15 people, as the number of dead or missing from recent flooding in the country surged past 200.

Nine people were reported killed in Hunan province and six in Guangxi, where vehicles were covered in mud and rocks along a mountain highway, local flood control offices said.

The deaths come after three people died on Sunday in a landslide near the Guangxi city of Wuzhou.

Rains brought by last week’s Typhoon Utor have caused severe flooding across Hunan, Guangxi and neighbouring Guangdong province. In Guangdong, 22 people have died and eight were missing in flooding since Friday.

By Tuesday morning, a total of 105 people were reported dead and 115 missing in the extreme south and northeast.

Russians in the Far East on Tuesday battled rising floodwaters as authorities evacuated more than 23,000 people from affected areas and scrambled to prevent the outbreak of infection.

Heavy rains pounding Khabarovsk, a Far Eastern city located near the Chinese border, since July have swelled the local Amur River to nearly seven metres — a level unseen since monitoring of the area began in 1895.

The floodwaters damaged property, infrastructure and crops, displaced tens of thousands and raised fresh questions about the Russian government’s readiness to handle natural disasters.

There have been no reports of fatalities but more than 23,000 people have been evacuated so far, the office of the Kremlin’s Far Eastern envoy Viktor Ishayev said in a statement.

National television footage showed locals making their way through a flooded area by boat and a cow wading through muddy waters, submerged nearly up to its neck.

The floods have affected the Yakutia, Primorsky Krai and Amur regions as well as the Jewish Autonomous Oblast but the Khabarovsk region was hit hardest.

Over the night, the region’s Amur river, which serves as a natural border with China where it is known as Heilong Jiang, has risen by 16 centimetres (6.2 inches) to 673 centimetres.

It is expected to rise by another 40 centimetres over the next two days.

Gulf News
News Editor's choice