'Mario' flooding shuts down Philippine capital

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Sep 19 2014 02:27 PM | Updated as of Sep 19 2014 10:27 PM

MANILA - Heavy rains brought by the outer bands of Tropical Storm Mario (Fung-Wong) shut down the Philippine capital Manila on Friday, stranding motorists and forcing tens of thousands to flee their flooded homes, officials said.

A major river burst its banks on Manila's heavily populated eastern districts, while other parts of the sprawling metropolis and the region north of the capital also suffered widespread flooding, though no casualties were reported.

Although Mario's winds were relatively light, with maximum speeds of 65 kilometers (40 miles) an hour, the storm brought heavy downpours, dumping some 268 millimeters (10.5 inches) of rain on the capital overnight, state weather forecaster Gener Quitlong told AFP.

That represented 76 percent of the average rainfall for the entire month, and more heavy rain was expected on the mountainous northeast as Fung-Wong swept westwards, brushing along the coast, Quitlong said.

Flooding had forced at least 50,000 people to flee their homes in and around Manila, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman told a news conference.

'Mario' flooding shuts down Philippine capital 1
Residents of a village in Mandaluyong City use a pedicab to cross a flooded street on Friday after heavy rains overnight flooded many parts of Metro Manila. Schools and most offices were shuttered after torrential rains brought back scenarios experienced during Ondoy in 2009. Photo by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBNnews.com

The government declared a school holiday and sent home government employees not involved in rescue operations and medical emergencies, while financial markets closed down.

Manila airport authorities cancelled 21 domestic flights, with six international flights also diverted elsewhere in the country due to bad weather, they said in a statement.

"I am angry that I have to do this each time it rains hard," Manila lawyer Ghelynne del Rosario told AFP, whose northern Manila bungalow was swamped by chest-deep floods.

Cradling her dog, she said she, her mother and grandmother -- who is in her eighties -- waded through the water at daybreak to reach safety on the second floor of a neighbor's house, with her two other dogs swimming alongside her.

An average of 20 typhoons hit the Philippines each year, killing hundreds and bringing misery to millions.

Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the strongest ever to hit land, left 7,300 people dead or missing across the central Philippines in November last year.

A thoroughly drenched office clerk Alyssa Aldea, 22, decided to return home after finding the street outside her Manila office blocked by knee-deep floods.

"I'd rather not get paid than get sick" by wading through the floodwaters, she told AFP as she contemplated a long bus commute back home.