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Manila brought to standstill by heavy rain


Torrential rains have brought the Philippine capital to a standstill, making streets impassable to vehicles and sending thousands of people into emergency shelters.

Schools, offices, the stock exchange, courts and embassies in Manila are closed as the weather bureau placed metropolitan Manila under red alert. The national disaster agency and local officials reported at least two dead and several missing.

Many areas are submerged in waist-deep floodwaters following a night of heavy rains brought by the monsoon which is enhanced by Tropical Storm Trami. It hovered over the North Philippine Sea and drenched the main northern island of Luzon with up to 30 millimetres (1.18 inches) of rain per hour.

Several dams were forced to open flood gates because of rising waters and thousands of residents downstream were told to move.

The national disaster agency and local officials reported at least two people dead and several missing.

TV footage showed residents trapped on rooftops as raging waters swept through Binan town on Lake Laguna, near Manila.

In the chilly northern mountain town of Sagada, army troops and police rescued 29 tourists, including 13 Japanese people, who were stranded for several hours inside a cave after two days of heavy rains caused a stream at the entrance to swell, Office of Civil Defence official Andrew Alex Uy said. One Filipino tourist remained missing.

A landslide and floods shut down traffic on one of major highways leading out of Manila. In the outlying provinces of Cavite, Batangas and Ilocos Norte father north, local authorities said flash floods forced thousands to take refuge in schools and other sturdy buildings.

Forecasters said the storm was expected to strengthen into a typhoon with winds of up to 75 miles per hour as it slowly moves away from the Philippines, passing just south of Japan's Okinawa by Wednesday.