MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 2) - Rainfall in Metro Manila has surpassed the levels felt during tropical storm Ondoy in September 2009, according to the Department of Science and Technology's Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards).
NOAH executive director Dr. Mahar Lagmay said accumulated rainfall in the past 22 hours has reached 472mm, higher than the 455mm recorded in 24 hours during tropical storm Ondoy.
Lagmay, however, said Tuesday's rain was "less intense than" Ondoy. He said Ondoy delivered over 300 mm of rain in 6 hours while the 472 mm of rain today was spread out in the past 24 hours.
"The intensity of that (Ondoy) rainfall event was higher than the intensity delivered during this rainfall event," he told ANC.
Hundreds of people were killed during the onslaught of tropical storm Ondoy in 2009 due to flash floods in Marikina, Pasig and other parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces. On the other hand, at least 12 people have been killed due to drowning and a landslide Tuesday in Quezon City and nearby Bulacan province.
Schools, financial markets and most government and private offices were shut as key roadways in Manila -- a metropolis of some 15 million people -- were submerged by waters that in some areas reached neck-deep.
Residents of low-lying slums fled the huge shantytowns lining Manila's rivers and sewers for the safety of schools, gymnasiums and government buildings as the downpour generated by seasonal monsoons struck overnight.
Army trucks hauled stranded residents from their homes, while enterprising children fashioned crude rafts out of scrap wood and banana tree trunks and charged people to ferry them around.
Power was turned off in some parts of the capital as a precautionary measure as the waters seeped into electrical facilities, the city's power distributor said.
Even before the latest deluge, the death toll from eight days of sustained rains had reached 53 with more than 268,000 people forced to flee their homes across the country, according to disaster authorities.
Jean Navarez from the state weather service earlier warned that the floods could worsen as the La Mesa dam, Manila's sole reservoir, began letting off water that would swell surrounding rivers.
"If we put it in a percentage, at least 50 percent of Metro Manila is flooded," she told AFP.
"There will be heavy rainfall for the next 24 hours. The floods will increase," she added.
Lagmay also backed Environment Secretary Ramon Paje's warning of possible landslides due to the heavy rainfall.
"The mountains are soaked and slopes are soaked, increasing the chance for landslides," he said.
With Agence France-Presse