MANILA — Waves swept over seawalls and flooded shantytowns in the Philippine capital on Wednesday as the death toll from four days of storms that have battered large swathes of the country rose to 14.
More than 150,000 people across the Philippines have been forced to flee their homes this week as Typhoon Saolo, hovering to the north of the country, has added to monsoon weather, the national disaster management council said.
The death toll rose to 14 after four died in a landslide in the northern mountains late Tuesday, then two drowned Wednesday in a flooded marshland community about 1,100 km to the south, the council said.
The capital of Manila and nearby areas that are home to more than 15 million people saw some of the worst flooding.
The district of Navotas, a tightly packed, fishing community of about 130,000 people along Manila Bay, was battered by huge waves, ravaging shanties built on the coast.
Dockworker Renaldo Abad, 15, said he punched a hole through the ceiling of his house and then made his way over the rooftops to avoid chest-deep flood waters.
Large military trucks helped people flee their homes in Navotas, while other residents used boats or improvised vessels made of scrap wood and styrofoam.
Navotas authorities said while there were no deaths reported, about 20 people were injured and more than 2,000 forced to seek shelter at evacuation centers.
The scenic Roxas Boulevard, a major coastal road beside Manila’s historic bay and only a few kilometers from Navotas, was also flooded as storm surges smashed spectacularly over the seawall.
Traffic had to be re-routed and the US embassy, located on Roxas Boulevard, shut down for the day due to knee-deep flooding.
While Typhoon Saola is moving north away from the Philippines, it continues to affect the monsoon rains, which have been pouring on the country since Sunday, said civil defense chief Benito Ramos.
“We can expect more rains and the floods may get worse,” he said.
Torrential rains from the approaching typhoon battered eastern Taiwan Wednesday after killing at least 14 people and displacing 154,000 in the Philippines.
At least one death in Taiwan was reported. Local media said a falling tree killed a woman near the southern city of Kaohsiung.
Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau predicts Typhoon Saola will skirt the island’s northeast tip early Thursday afternoon.
Parts of northeastern Taiwan already reported rainfall of close to 900mm (30 inches) by Wednesday afternoon, while the CWB said about one-third of that amount had fallen in suburban Taipei. It could dump more than 1,500 mm (59 inches) of rain in northern Taiwan before moving westward toward the Chinese coast late Thursday.
A major east coast highway was closed because of the typhoon and several hundred people were evacuated from low-lying areas, as mudslides blocked roads and choked off transportation.
A river in Ilan county flooded its banks, inundating hundreds of acres of nearby rice paddies.
The Defense Ministry mobilized 48,000 soldiers to help mitigate the storm’s impact.
Dozens of flights were cancelled at Taipei’s main international airport, and the city was expected to come to a virtual standstill Thursday. — Agencies