MANILA, Philippines - Heavy rains and floods caused by an intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) have claimed 21 lives in the Visayas and Mindanao, officials said yesterday.
In Metro Manila, flash floods and thunderstorms knocked out power in some communities and brought traffic to a standstill in many areas last Thursday night.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said the number of flood deaths due to the ITCZ increased as new fatalities were recorded in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Zamboanga Peninsula and Central Visayas.
Those who died of drowning in the ARMM were Helen Ignacio, Tessie Samson, Flordeliza Sebastian and Judyane Sebastian, all from Lamitan City, Basilan.
The other fatalities were identified as Christine Dongallo Bacan, 38, and Mariluna Andawa, 8, both from Zamboanga City; Ruben Amparado, 40, of Negros Oriental; and Cesar Martin of Maguindanao.
The stormy weather has so far left three persons missing, namely Palomar Lafranco and Erwin Cadimas of Negros Oriental and Kinimi Omar of Maguindanao.
Meanwhile, motorists experienced near gridlock traffic and hundreds of commuters were stranded on Thursday night due to a sudden downpour which flooded some streets of Metro Manila.
According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the heavy rains were caused by severe thunderstorms.
Based on the monitoring of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA)’s Flood Control Information Center (FCIC), the heavy downpour started at about 6 p.m.
At around 6:35 pm., the FCIC began receiving reports of flooded streets.
Among these were Santolan street going to EDSA near Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City where flooding was reportedly at 36 inches, rendering the street impassable to all types of vehicles; EDSA-Magallanes tunnel which connects Makati and Taguig across EDSA (40 inches); and Villamor West Service Road (36 inches).
Also flooded were Victory Avenue corner Araneta Avenue in Quezon City (37 inches of floodwater) and the portion of Commonwealth Avenue and Regalado Avenue in Quezon City (18 inches).
More rains due to Santi
PAGASA yesterday warned the public of more rains in the coming days with the landfall of Typhoon Santi and the entrance of yet another tropical cyclone into the country.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources warned yesterday that over 5,000 barangays in areas under signals no. 2 and 3 are highly susceptible to flooding.
Santi is the 19th tropical cyclone to enter the country this year and the second weather disturbance this month.
It is the sixth cyclone to make landfall so far this year, PAGASA officer-in-charge Vicente Malano said.
Tropical cyclone Tino
Perez said a new weather disturbance is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility on Monday.
However, Perez said the approaching cyclone, which will be locally named Tino once inside the country, is unlikely to make landfall and is seen to exit the country by Tuesday.
The Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard and the NDRRMC Operations Center have been placed on red alert in preparation for the impact of Santi.
NDRRMC spokesman Maj. Rey Balido said the alert status took effect at 8 a.m. yesterday.
NDRRMC said the Social Welfare department has readied P105.87 million worth of emergency relief resources.
The agency also has an available stockpile of 2,000 family food packs and has prepositioned 4,400 food packs to 65 evacuation centers.
Maj. Emmanuel Garcia, acting spokesman of the Armed Forces Northern Luzon Command, said their troops have been alerted for disaster response efforts.
The red alert level in La Mesa Dam was lifted yesterday morning. – With Helen Flores, Celso Amo, Evelyn Macairan, Dino Balabo, Charlie Lagasca, Rhodina Villanueva, Rainier Allan Ronda, Raymund Catindig, Cecille Suerte Felipe