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Tropical storm kills dozens in Philippines

16.7 inches of rain falls on Manila in 12 hours. Flooding strands thousands.

September 27, 2009|Associated Press

MANILA — Tropical Storm Ketsana slammed ashore in the Philippines on Saturday, leaving at least 72 people dead or missing and stranding thousands on rooftops in the capital's worst flooding in more than 42 years.

The government declared a "state of calamity" in metropolitan Manila and 25 storm-hit provinces, said Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, who heads the National Disaster Coordinating Council.

A landslide and flash flooding in nearby Rizal province killed 35 people, said provincial government spokesman Tony Mateo. Three people were also reported killed in Manila's southern suburb of Muntinglupa and two others in Quezon City, said Anthony Golez, deputy presidential spokesman and acting head of the Office of Civil Defense.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took an elevated commuter train to the disaster council office for a meeting because roads were clogged by vehicles stuck in the floodwaters.

About 16.7 inches of rain fell on metropolitan Manila in 12 hours Saturday, exceeding the 15.4-inch average for September, said chief government weather forecaster Nathaniel Cruz.

The rainfall Saturday also broke a record of 13.2 inches, which fell during a 24-hour period in June 1967, he said.

"However good your drainage system is, it will be overwhelmed by that amount of rainfall," he said.

Cruz said seasonal monsoon rains were intensified by Ketsana, which packed winds of 53 mph with gusts of up to 63 mph when it hit land early Saturday. By the evening, the storm had headed west toward the South China Sea.

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