Flooding below the flyover on Osmeña Avenue in Makati City. Photo by Rem Zamora for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA - Torrential rain continued to batter a large part of the Philippine capital and surrounding provinces on Tuesday, submerging more than half of Metro Manila and leaving some places under a state of calamity.
The Office of Civil Defense said 50-60% of the National Capital Region has been affected by floods due to intense rainfall. More than half a million people -- 601,104 individuals -- are affected by the floods.
Pictures taken by ABS-CBN reporters and netizens showed large areas of Metro Manila covered in floodwaters, with some residents even swimming in chest-deep waters.
In some areas of Makati and Quezon City, residents used boats and makeshift rafts as their mode of transportation.
San Mateo, Rizal; and the entire provinces of Laguna and Pampanga have declared a state of calamity on Tuesday due to the severity of the flooding.
Laguna Gov. ER Ejercito told radio dzMM 16,450 families or an estimated 80,405 persons were affected by the tropical storm.
Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda, meanwhile, said she has asked residents living near dikes to leave their homes now.
"We declared a state of calamity because nearly all 18 towns of Pampanga have had their barangays submerged," she told ANC.
She also said the provincial government will not conduct rescue operations at night since it would be more dangerous.
Photo by Rem Zamora for ABS-CBNnews.com
At least 60 percent of Manila was flooded on Tuesday morning, with some places enduring waters climbing as high as 2.1 meters (seven feet), an official with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority told the briefing.
In one part of the capital, 47.5 centimeters (18.7 inches) 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.
She said this was the same amount as which normally fell for all of August, already one of the wettest months of the year.
While no-one had been reported killed in Manila, four more people were confirmed to have drowned in flooded farming provinces to the north, said Reynaldo Balido, a spokesman for the government's disaster management council.
This brought the confirmed death toll from two days of flooding across the main island of Luzon to seven.
The economic toll also started to grow, with the stock exchange, government offices and schools in Manila closed for a second consecutive day.
Many domestic flights at Manila's airport were cancelled, while international flights were delayed on Tuesday morning. Flooded roads to the airport were impassable.
Photo by Rem Zamora for ABS-CBNnews.com
Orange rainfall alert
State weather bureau PAGASA downgraded Tuesday the rainfall alert in Metro Manila and nearby provinces from red to orange.
An orange rainfall alert means heavy to intense rains of 15 to 30 millimeters will be affecting Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales and Bataan.
The latest PAGASA advisory issued at 1:10 p.m. on Tuesday also said, “moderate to heavy rains is affecting Northern Quezon and portion of Nueva Ecija and most likely to continue for the next 3 hours.”
The Southeast Asian archipelago endures about 20 major storms or typhoons annually, generally in the second half of the year and many of them deadly.
The extent of the flooding across Manila recalled memories of Tropical Storm Ketsana, which flooded 80 percent of the capital in 2009 and claimed more than 460 lives.
However Ketsana took most people in Manila by surprise, and residents as well as the government have taken many measures to be better prepared.
These include extensive social media alerts informing people about places to avoid and offering a platform to appeal for help.
One of the most important tools this week has been the #RescuePH hashtag on microblogging site Twitter.
"URGENT RESCUE: floods now reaching the second floor of houses there. #RescuePH" one post said, identifying the location of the district in Manila. With a report by Agence France-Presse