MANILA, Philippines – A typhoon battered the Philippine capital and surrounding provinces still reeling from recent flooding, sending residents of one town clambering onto rooftops Saturday to escape rising waters. Seven people died and at least five were missing.
Typhoon Mirinae was the fourth storm to lash the northern Philippines since late September and brought new hardship to areas still struggling in the wake of the previous disasters. Nearly 95,000 people who fled during two prior storms were still living in temporary shelters when Mirinae struck, the national disaster agency said.
Saturday's storm headed out to sea in the afternoon and weakened into a tropical storm. It appeared to be heading toward Vietnam.
As Mirinae slammed into Quezon province northeast of Manila around midnight Friday, Philippine authorities evacuated more than 115,000 people in nine provinces east and south of the capital in the storm's path on main Luzon island, the National Disaster Coordinating Council reported. At its height, its winds were blowing 93 miles per hour and gusting up to 115 mph.
One river in Laguna province, south of Manila, overflowed, washing away a bridge and flooding most of lakeside Santa Cruz town. Residents clambered onto roofs to escape the waters, said Mayor Ariel Magcalas.
"We cannot move, this is no joke. The water is high. We need help," Magcalas said in a public address on Radio DZBB early Saturday.
The muddy floodwater receded as rains eased later in the day, but was still chest-high in some communities.
In Manila, residents hunkered down in their homes overnight as rains beat down on dark, deserted streets. Mirinae passed south of the city of 12 million. The sprawling metropolis saw its worst flooding in 40 years in late September when Tropical Storm Ketsana hit the capital and nearby provinces. In many suburban communities, the floodwaters had still not receded when Mirinae struck.
That storm was quickly followed by Typhoon Parma, which triggered massive landslides in Luzon's mountain region. More than 900 people were killed in the storms, and a third then threatened the northern Philippines before veering toward Japan.
Ahead of Saturday's typhoon, millions of Filipinos had boarded buses for their home provinces for the Nov. 1 All Saints Day holiday, when people visit cemeteries to pay respects to dead relatives in this devoutly Roman Catholic nation.
Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro expressed fear that floods and traffic congestion may trap visitors at graveyards, where people traditionally spend a day or even a night, but few heeded his call to scrap this year's commemorations. Radio stations reported that large crowds converged on cemeteries even in flooded areas. Carrying candles, food and rain gear, many settled in for an overnight vigil.
Initial reports Saturday indicated more flooding from Mirinae but relatively few deaths.
Six people in four provinces died, most drowning in floodwaters, regional police chief Perfecto Palad said. Among the victims was a 12-year-old girl who was swept away by a flash flood in Laguna's Pagsanjan township, and a man who tried to cross a swollen creek in Rizal province's Pililla township carrying his 1-year-old child, Palad said. The child remains missing along with four other people.
Many flights at Manila's international and domestic airports were canceled, and about 8,000 ferry passengers were stranded as the coast guard grounded all vessels.
Airlines later announced new schedules, and passengers packed terminals trying to catch the earliest flights. The coast guard allowed ferries to resume operations after weathermen lowered all storm alerts.
Manila electric power distributor Meralco said the high winds had forced outages in many areas around the capital, but electricity was restored in most areas by Saturday afternoon.
In Rizal province's Taytay township, about 400 shanties — temporary shelter for about 2,000 people who had been forced to flee their lakeside homes during Ketsana — were destroyed by strong winds, Mayor Joric Gacula said.
By late Saturday afternoon, the storm's winds had slowed to 80 mph and was some 144 miles (230 kilometers) west-southwest of Manila, chief government forecaster Nathaniel Cruz said.
"It is moving away toward the South China Sea," Cruz said. "That part of our lives with (Mirinae) is over."