A tropical storm slammed into the Philippines on Wednesday, dumping heavy rains and causing renewed flooding and landslides in a nation hit by weeks of destructive monsoon weather.
Tropical Storm Kai-tak made landfall over the north-east of the main island of Luzon before dawn, packing powerful winds and dumping up to 35 millimetres of rain an hour, the state weather bureau said.
While the capital Manila and surrounding areas were not directly hit, they were inundated with intermittent bursts of heavy rain, just a week after flooding that covered much of the city left 95 people dead.
“We have been experiencing really heavy rains since last night, and our rescuers have evacuated some residents after neck-deep flooding was reported,” said Melchito Castro, head of civil defence in the northern Ilocos region.
He said flooding hit four towns, although there were no immediate reports of new casualties. Landslides also hit portions of a major highway, cutting it off to traffic.
Norma Talosig, a civil defence official in the region covering the eastern part of Luzon, said authorities there were closely watching the Cagayan river basin amid fears it could overflow.
At more than 500 kilometres, the heavily silted Cagayan river is the longest in the country and cuts across four northern agricultural provinces.
“The water level is rising, but it has not yet reached critical levels,” Talosig told AFP. “The danger is that when it does overflow, it will flood hundreds of hectares of agricultural production areas and communities.”
Talosig said authorities in the eastern region expected heavier rains as Kai-tak slowly moved northwards.
“When the storm's outer bands hits us, its like a whip that's deadlier,” she said.
Kai-tak was also expected to bring more misery to nearly half a million people still in evacuation centres in areas outside Manila where last week's floods have yet to fully subside.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said many low-lying farming areas remained flooded, and with rains expected to continue the waters would likely linger for days.
Council chief Benito Ramos has warned those in Manila and in areas where waters were receding to prepare for a new round of evacuations caused by Kai-tak.
Two weeks of relentless monsoon rains peaked early last week with about two days of torrential rain across Luzon that affected more than 3.4 million people, according to the government. - Sapa-AFP