MANILA, Philippines » Manila residents waded through waist-deep floodwaters and dodged flying debris Tuesday as a powerful typhoon struck the Philippines, killing at least 16 people and sending waves as tall as palm trees crashing over seawalls.
Most deaths occurred in metropolitan Manila, which already was soaked by heavy monsoon rains ahead of Typhoon Nesat’s arrival with more downpours and wind gusts of up to 93 mph. Downtown areas along Manila Bay suffered their worst flooding in decades.
Pounding rains obscured the view of anyone on the streets as soldiers and police scrambled to safely evacuate thousands of people in low lying areas, where rivers and the sea spilled into shanties, hospitals, swanky hotels and even the seaside U.S. Embassy compound, which was closed Tuesday.
“It’s flooded everywhere. We don’t have a place to go for shelter. Even my motorcycle got filled with water,” said motorist Ray Gonzales, one of thousands stranded by fast-rising floodwaters.
The massive flooding came exactly a day after this sprawling, coastal city of 12 million held commemorations for the nearly 500 people killed during a 2009 cyclone, which dumped a month’s rainfall in just 12 hours.
Typhoon Nesat hit ashore before dawn Tuesday in eastern provinces and headed inland just north of Manila with up to an inch of rain per hour, half that of the storm two years ago, said government forecaster Samuel Duran.
The geography of the archipelago makes it a welcome mat for about 20 storms and typhoons forming in the Pacific each year but the latest onslaught still caught many by surprise.
In all, authorities ordered more than 100,000 people across the country to shelter from Typhoon Nesat’s rains, winds of 75 mph (120 kph) and gusts of up to 93 mph — enough to bend street signs.
Along downtown Manila’s historic baywalk, cars and buses were stuck and residents struggled through floodwaters as waves washed over the seawall, turning a six-lane highway into a huge brown river. Sidewalks and entrances to buildings were swamped and vehicles stranded along narrow streets.
Manila Hospital moved patients from its ground floor, where waters were neck-deep, spokeswoman Evangeline Morales said. Hospital generators were flooded and the building had no power since early Tuesday. Emergency workers evacuated river areas in the city that are notorious for flooding.
An Associated Press photographer said soldiers and police in trucks moved thousands of residents, mostly women and children, from the Baseco shanty facing Manila port after many houses were washed away. Male family members were reluctant to leave saying they wanted to guard their property.
The Philippine Stock Exchange and U.S. Embassy were also closed Tuesday. Waters at the gates of the embassy compound, which is located along Manila Bay, reached chest-deep.
“There was some flooding in the embassy, I don’t know the extent. I’m not there right now,” said embassy spokeswoman Tina Malone. She said employees on their way Tuesday turned around when told of a decision to close the embassy.
Residents in one neighborhood of Quezon City, a Manila suburb, fled their homes due to rising water from the nearby San Mateo River, and evacuations were under way along the Marikina River.
Toby Tiangco, the mayor of flood-prone Navotas, part of the greater Manila area, said it was the first time that water overcame the dike protecting the town.
In the financial district of Makati, a billboard fell on two cars and a bus, causing injuries.
Seasonal monsoon rains have been accumulating and “typhoon winds, strong waves could have pushed water inland,” Duran, the forecaster, told AP. “Land is saturated with rain so the next rain became run-off and was already floodwater,” he said.
Francis Tolentino, chairman of Metro Manila Development Authority, which encompasses the capital’s 17 cities, blamed the storm surge for the Manila Bay flooding.
“The wind was so strong so the seawater overflowed and flowed past the embankment and couldn’t flow back to the bay because of the embankment,” he said, adding that a high tide developing later Tuesday also played a role.
President Benigno Aquino III, on a state visit to Japan, issued a statement saying he had instructed authorities to compile all information about the flooding.
He said the government had carried out preventive evacuations in the central Philippines. Nearly half of the Luzon areas served by the main power distributor were without electricity due to tripping caused by high winds, he said.
“I’m in constant touch with these members of my Cabinet and the executive secretary has been instructed to keep me and the public informed of conditions pertaining as well as mitigation efforts,” Aquino said.
The first reported death was a 1-year-old who drowned in the central island province of Cataduanes after falling into a river, the government disaster agency reported. As the typhoon moved into Manila, a mother and child were killed when their house was hit by a falling tree in the suburb of Caloocan, and four were reported killed by a collapsing wall in the suburb of Valenzuela.
Four fishermen were missing while more than 50 others were rescued along eastern shores after their boats overturned in choppy seas.
Forecasters warned of 12-foot-high (4-meter-high) waves.
A tornado in Isabela’s Maconancon town ripped off the roofs of at least five houses, injuring two people, police said.
With its immense 400-mile (650-kilometer) cloud band, the typhoon threatened to foul weather across the entire main island of Luzon as it moves across the Philippines toward the South China Sea late Wednesday or early Thursday toward southern China.
UPDATE: Maui Police on September 30, 2011, confirmed that the motorcycle rider killed in th accident was Saul W. Sanders.
Maui Police have released the details of Monday evening’s fatal motorcycle crash. At 10:55 p.m., the crash occurred at Cane Haul Road where it intersects with the Mokulele Highway.
The motorcycle was travelling north along the highway in the outer lane when it impacted an industrial truck travelling east along Cane Haul Road, crossing the highway. The signal was read for Mokululu traffic at the time of the accident. Following impact, the motorcycle caught fire.
The operator of the motorcycle died from injuries in the crash. Police have tentatively identified the man as a 32 year-old Maui resident. His name has not been released, pending family notification. He was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. The truck’s operator was not injured.
The fatality is the 15th this year on Maui roads, compared with 10 at this last year. This is the sixth motorcycle fatality of 2011.
A fatal mortorcycle accident on Mokulele Highway last night closed the Kahului bound lanes of the highway from Pi’ilani Highway to Kahului. The accident occurred at 11:55 p.m.
Maui Police completed their work on the accident and reopened the highway at 1:55 a.m. today.
WAILUKU, Maui, Hawai`i – The Department of Parks and Recreation Aquatics Division announced today that the following pools will be closed all day for Lifeguard re-certification training on the following dates:
Should you have any questions, please contact Duke Sevilla at 270-6135.
Maui firefighters are investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed a single-story home Saturday in Hana.
Firefighters were dispatched at about 11:10 a.m. to the 900-square-foot, three-bedroom home at 1350 Hana Highway and found the structure fully involved, a fire official said. A mother and child who lived in the house were not home.
Firefighters extinguished the blaze at 4:30 p.m. Damage was estimated at $210,000.
Hurricane Hilary stirred up surf in Baja California and southwestern Mexico, while Tropical Storm Philippe remained far from land over the Atlantic.
Hilary, with sustained winds of 195 kilometers (120 miles) per hour, was 710 kilometers south-southwest of Baja California and moving west at 17 kilometers per hour, the National Hurricane Center said in a 5 a.m. Miami time advisory. The system, a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, is forecast to weaken over the next two days.
Swells generated by Hilary are already affecting parts of southwestern Mexico and southern Baja California, the center said. “These swells are likely causing life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.”
In the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Philippe with 60 mph winds is predicted to stay away from land for at least five days, with little change in strength over the next 48 hours, the NHC said. The 16th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season that runs through November was about 970 kilometers west of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands and moving west-northwest.
The NHC is also monitoring an area of thunderstorms east of the Virgin Islands that includes the remnants of Tropical Storm Ophelia, saying it has a 20 percent of becoming a depression or storm with two days.
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