Monsoon rains swamp Manila, leave at least 9 killed and thousands stranded
(CBS News) MANILA - Continuous heavy downpour for the last 24 hours has inundated at least half of Manila, bringing the Philippine capital it to a virtual standstill and leaving at least nine people dead.
For Manila's waterlogged residents stuck awaiting rescue on rooftops, wading through waist-deep waters, and watching cars float by, the monsoon rains are bringing a sense of d?j? vu.
The floods are raising fears of a disaster on the scale of Typhoon Ketsana, which killed hundreds of people in 2009.
Officials said four people also died in the province of Laguna, just south of Manila.
Among the nine people confirmed dead after a landslide buried shanty homes in a Manila suburb was a one-month old baby, according to local police. Three others survived the slide, but one was hospitalized in critical condition.
Heavy rains were forecast to continue until Thursday, and with rivers swollen well beyond their banks and dams already breached, the floodwater continues to rise.
Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated across the nation, but thousands more remain stranded on roofs and in homes and other buildings without food or fresh water.
Even some hospitals and malls have been filled with several feet of water on the ground floors.
Many desperate Filipinos have resorted to both traditional and social media to ask for help as the government has been unable to keep up with the scope of the disaster.
One Twitter user begged for help: "@MMDA PLEASE SPREAD! 74 year old lady trapped at 17 Kapiligan St. Araneta Subdv QC All grilled windows locked, water already at 2nd floor."
The Metro Manila Development Authority or MMDA, as well as the Philippine National Red Cross, are also using their Twitter accounts to solicit help from private citizens, and have received some offers of rubber boats to aid in search and rescue efforts.
President Benigno Aquino III has assured the public that the government is exerting "maximum effort," but inundated roads are preventing rescue workers from reaching many victims.
The amount of rainfall has actually exceeded that of Typhoon Ketsana, according to state meteorologists, but this time around, there isn't even a typhoon to blame it on.
Non-stop rains are triggered by the seasonal monsoon, although Typhoon Haikui is hovering north of the country, on China's eastern seaboard.
It's not just Manila and its surrounding area suffering. Large parts of Northern and Central Philippines have been hammered by rains for more than a week now, bringing the overall death toll across the country to more than 50.
In Hermosa, Bataan, some residents refused to leave even as flood waters swept into their homes. Like most of her neighbors, Luz Burayad had been living on the second floor of her house for several days when she spoke to CBS News.
"It's been really hard. We can't sleep well," she said. "Our walls have been punched open by the strong current."
Burayad, who was born and raised in Hermosa, said that while floods are nothing new in her town, they've never reached this height.
It's been getting worse year after year, according to Hermosa's Mayor Christopher Vitug, as the river that flows through the town has become too heavily silted.
"We can only do so much. We are ready to rescue our constituents and we have funds for relief, but we need the help of the national government to dredge the river," said Vitug.
It seems there's very little, however, that even the Philippine national government can do in the face of the sheer amount of rainfall which continues to relentlessly hammer the country's north.
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