(Photo: REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo)
Millions of people in Philippines were in a critical situation Wednesday after torrential rains pounded Manila, the capital of about 12 million people, making it the 11th straight day of a monsoon downpour.
"We're also asking people living along swollen riverbanks to evacuate," said Benito Ramos, head of the national disaster agency. "If there is a need for us to force them to leave their homes, we will do that for their own safety." He added that about 60 percent of Manila remains in a critical state, Reuters reported.
The one-hour downpour on Wednesday reached 2.15 inches, almost matching the record-setting downpour in Sept. 2009 that killed more than 700 people and cost more than $1 billion in damage. The death toll for the current monsoon reached 72, which is being blamed on Typhoon Saola hitting the northern portions of the main Luzon island late last month.
"We're still concerned about the situation in the coastal areas," Ramos noted after an aerial survey of hard-hit areas. "It was difficult to distinguish the sea from the flood waters."
Government workers are on the job trying to provide emergency rescue to at least 850,000 people that are currently stranded or displaced, and many others seeking shelter and assistance at temporary shelters that have been set up in the area.
The government is also drawing up plans to permanently relocate people in the hard-hit areas to try and reduce damage in the wake of the typhoon.
"We were hoping to go home because it's difficult here. The sleeping conditions are not comfortable, and it's not easy to get food," said Joyce Anne Diri, a mother of three at one of the shelters.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration has warned citizens that more landslides and flash flooding were expected Wednesday, which may cause further damage.