Torrential rains and subsequent flooding from Tropical Storm Ketsana have claimed at least 50 lives in the Philippines, a government official said Sunday.
Five of the deaths occurred in metropolitan Manila, which — along with the nearby province of Rizal — bore the brunt of the downpour, said Gilberto Teodoro, secretary of national defense and chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council. Two of the dead in the capital city were victims of a wall that collapsed, he said. Five thousand people were rescued without boats, and another 3,688 were rescued with boats, he said. iReport.com: Share images of Philippines flooding “My neighborhood rarely gets a bad flooding, and I guess this is the worst,” Jv Abellar from Quezon City, Philippines, told CNN’s iReport.com. “Traversing through the flood is like walking through rapids.” In all, 41,205 people had sought refuge in 92 evacuation centers, Teodoro said. By 3 a.m. Sunday, the downpour had reduced to a drizzle, he said. Some roads in the capital metropolitan area had reopened, but “we do not encourage people to travel these roads,” Teodoro told CNN in a telephone interview. “They can be a hindrance to efficient relief and rescue operations.” President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered pay parking lots at malls in Manila be opened so motorists can leave their cars there without charge, Teodoro said. Manila’s Nino Aquino International Airport and nearly all of the country’s other international airports had reopened, he said. Though the Philippines is no stranger to floods, Saturday’s precipitation approached a record, with 341 millimeters (13.4 inches) falling between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., Teodoro said. The average rainfall for all of September is 391 millimeters (15.4 inches), he said.