Tropical storm leaves 15 missing in Philippines

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The Independent Online

A tropical storm left 15 people missing in the northern Philippines after flooding a wide swath of metropolitan Manila and forcing more than 75,000 people to flee their homes in the capital and nearby provinces.

One of 10 missing fishermen from Catanduanes province was rescued about 75 miles to the south in rough waters churned up by Tropical Storm Meari, the sixth storm to hit the country this year, said civil defence administrator Benito Ramos.

Three other missing fishermen from Camarines Norte and three other people who were separately swept away by floodwaters have not yet been found, he said.

The storm blew out of the country early this morning and was heading toward Okinawa with winds of 65 miles per hour and gusts of up to 84 mph, weather forecasters said.

The civil defence office reported 330,000 people in Metro Manila and seven provinces were affected by the storm and the ensuing floods, which forced more than 75,000 people to flee to emergency evacuation centers, including schools.

The rains have eased and floodwaters subsided by noon.

Graciano Yumul, who heads the government weather bureau, says up to 15 more storms could affect the country this year.

The upcoming storms are expected to be more intense — with heavier rain and stronger winds — than the 11 that hit the country last year, Yumul said.

He said 7.4 inches of rain, or nearly three inches more than the "normal definition of heavy rain," fell on the capital during a 24-hour period Thursday, two days after Meari entered the country as a tropical depression.