Typhoon Chata'an leaves 21 dead or missing in the Philippines
Chata'an, packing winds of up to 170 kilometers (105 miles) an hour, dumped torrential rain on this Southeast Asian archipelago on Saturday and Sunday while en route to southern Japan.
"There is a disaster going on out there," President Gloria Arroyo said in a speech before military personnel.
She ordered the air force to step up rescue efforts and "fly and extricate stranded flood victims from rooftops and places unreachable by land."
Classes at all levels of school were suspended, while brief power outages were experienced in some areas in Manila as strong winds triggered automatic safety devices to switch off, officials said.
Three of the 18 recorded deaths were South Korean tourists who drowned when their boat capsized in rough waters south of Manila on Saturday, the civil defense office said.
They were going to an island resort in the central Philippines when disaster struck. Three other people, including two South Koreans from the same party, are missing and 29 were injured.
The fresh casualties included an unidentified man who drowned in flashfloods and two others who either died from landslides or vehicular accidents, the Office of Civil Defense said.
An updated report by the agency said a total of 19,699 people were displaced and transferred to temporary evacuation centers or schools around Manila and nearby provinces.
Many of the evacuees who flocked to higher ground, including school buildings, were urban poor squatting on land beside open sewers and rivers, said chief disaster response official Melchor Rosales.
"There has been continuous heavy rain for the past eight hours" in the northern Philippines, Rosales said.
"There are two weather systems affecting the country now. One is a typhoon to the east about 1,200 kilometers (744 miles) away, but one is a low pressure area about 400 kilometers (248 miles) east" of the Batan island group near the Philippine sea border with Taiwan.
"These are now pulling the monsoon rains northward," Rosales said.
Floodwaters began to ebb early Monday, but intermittent rain persisted into the afternoon.
Chief state weather forecaster Prisco Nilo warned of more rain in provinces north of Manila.
The government warned residents of northern and eastern Manila to be prepared to leave their homes in case authorities have to release water from La Mesa, the capital's main drinking water reservoir, which was within five meters (16.5 feet) of overflowing.
Copyright (c) 2002 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 07/08/2002 05:24:10
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