15 feared dead as storm hits Manila

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

Ten fisherman were among the missing, although one man 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.

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

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The storm blew out of the country early yesterday and was heading toward Okinawa in Japan, with winds of 65 miles per hour and gusts of up to 84 mph.

The country's civil defence office reported that around 330,000 people in Manila and seven nearby provinces were affected by the storm and the ensuing floods, which forced more than 75,000 people to flee to emergency evacuation centres, including schools.

By yesterday afternoon the rains had eased and floodwaters had started to subside.

The government weather bureau said 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.

The weather bureau added that 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 last Thursday, two days after Meari entered the country as a tropical depression.