MANILA, Philippines (CNS) — Flooding caused by days of torrential rains forced more than a quarter million people from their homes in parts of the Philippine capital and surrounding provinces.
The government said at least 50 percent of metropolitan Manila was under water, displacing an estimated 270,000 people, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.
The deep water blocked roads, stranded motorists and flooded homes. Water was up to nine feet deep in some neighborhoods and was waist deep throughout much of the city center, according to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Aug. 7 that at least 53 people had died since the onset of the rains July 28.
Five other were reported missing and 35 were injured.
The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration declared a red alert late Aug. 6 after dams and rivers near the capital overflowed.
Authorities shut off electrical power to much of the city.
The government suspended work and classes in the Manila metropolitan area and the provinces of Bataan, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Rizal, Tarlac and Zambales.
In response, government, nonprofit and church aid agencies rushed relief supplies to emergency shelters scattered across the region.
Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman said 100 evacuation centers, including 42 in the capital region, had opened to receive people forced from their homes.
Overall, about 1 million people in 35 provinces were affected by the flooding. The region around the capital is home to 12 million people.
Police officers and army reservists were sent to help with rescue efforts, CNN reported.
Government meteorologists said heavy rain from Typhoon Saola began July 28 and that storm was followed immediately by the normal monsoon rains that affect the region in July and August. A second tropical storm northeast of Taiwan enhanced the monsoons, causing up to an inch and half of rain to fall per hour, meteorologists said.
Forecasters expected the rains to continue through at least Aug. 8.