MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Torrential rains pounding the Philippine capital on Tuesday paralyzed traffic as waist-deep floods triggered evacuations of tens of thousands of residents and the government suspended work in offices and schools.
Incessant downpour set off by the seasonal monsoon overflowed major dams and rivers in Manila and surrounding nine provinces and put authorities on alert. The death toll from last week’s Typhoon Saola, which battered Manila and the northern Philippines for several days, has steadily climbed to 51.
The head of the government’s rescue agency, Benito Ramos, said there were no immediate reports of fresh casualties early Tuesday after the rains pounded already-saturated Manila for more than 24 hours.
Vehicles and even heavy trucks struggled to navigate water-clogged roads, where hundreds of thousands of commuters were stranded overnight. Many cars were stuck in the muddy waters.
The La Mesa dam, which supplies water to the capital city with a population of about 12 million, spilled excess water for a second time early Tuesday into the rivers flowing into Quezon city, a middle-class suburb, as well as the neighborhoods of Malabon, Valenzuela and Caloocan, where several villages were submerged.
Along the swollen Marikina River, police were deployed to move more than 5,000 residents away from the riverbanks in what Vice Mayor Jose Cadiz said was an enforced evacuation. The operation started after the City Hall sounded the alarm bell.
The Philippine Stock Exchange in the financial district of Makati, which was also flooded, said it will remain closed Tuesday, as was the U.S. Embassy along Manila Bay in the historic old city that was drenched out last week when a storm surge pushed the water over the seawall.
“The embassy is closed today due to excessive flooding in the streets and concern for the safety of our employees and consular applicants,” Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. said in an announcement.
In 2009, massive flooding spawned by a typhoon devastated Manila and the surrounding areas and killed hundreds of residents in rampaging flash floods. The state weather bureau said that the latest rainfall was not as severe but warned of more rainy days ahead.
Last week’s Typhoon Saola was the seventh of 20 typhoons and storms expected to batter the Philippines this year.
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