Philippines Shuts Financial Markets, Offices Amid Floods

Three people were killed and three are missing after heavy rains flooded the Philippine capital and nearby provinces, shutting financial markets, schools and government offices.

Tropical storm Trami, locally known as Maring, was almost stationary east of Batanes province for the past six hours, maintaining its maximum winds of 75 kilometers per hour and gusts reaching 90 kilometers per hour. “Heavy to intense” rainfall at as much as 25 millimeters per hour is enhancing the monsoon rains and thunderstorms over the main island of Luzon, the weather bureau said in an 11 a.m. advisory on its website.

Two people died after a dike collapsed in Cavite province this morning, while a motor accident in Apayao killed one and injured nine yesterday, authorities said. Two men are missing after attempting to cross rivers in Mt. Province and Abra, while a woman who was among 31 tourists trapped in a cave in Mt. Province yesterday is still unaccounted for. There were at least six landslides in Abra province.

Evacuations were reported in the provinces of Batangas, Cavite, Ilocos and Laguna and in the cities of Makati and Marikina in the capital. Some local flights were canceled.

The Philippine Stock Exchange halted equity trading and settlement at its Securities Clearing Corp. of the Philippines. There was no trading of currency and government securities, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla said. Markets were last shut because of floods a year ago.

Yellow Warning

The weather bureau lowered its rainfall warning to yellow, the lowest in a three-color scale, in Manila and nearby provinces at 12:15 p.m., where it remained as of 3:15 p.m. The alert level was raised to red, the highest warning, late yesterday until this morning.

Gates at the Binga and Ambuklao dams in northern Philippines were opened as waters were near critical levels, the disaster agency said. Forced evacuations are taking place in Ilocos Norte province as flooding reached as high as 15 feet (5 meters), it said.

SM Prime Holdings Inc.’s malls are open, with some accommodating stranded customers and offering free parking overnight, Corazon Guidote, senior vice president at parent SM Investment Corp. said in a mobile-phone message.

“We provided them with coffee and crackers,” Guidote said, adding the customers were also allowed to charge their mobile phones.

Recurring Floods

At least 15 people were killed and thousands fled their homes a year ago when torrential rains flooded about 50 percent of the Manila region. The monsoon last year was comparable to the flooding caused by Typhoon Ketsana, which killed more than 400 people when it swamped Manila and parts of Luzon in 2009.

The southeast Asian nation is regularly battered by cyclones that form over the Pacific Ocean, causing devastation that often prompts criticism of the government’s disaster-response efforts. Storm Washi killed more than 1,200 people, mostly in Mindanao, in December 2011.

Large parts of the capital pummeled by rain since yesterday are flooded, according to GMA News. Some roads in Makati City near the central business district are not passable, while portions of Quezon City and Manila are waist-deep, according to the report.

Rains of 30 millimeters to 65 millimeters per hour are expected under a red warning, compared with 15 millimeters to 30 millimeters under an orange warning, according to the weather bureau website.

Storm Bopha, which triggered landslides and damaged thousands of homes in coastal and mining towns in Mindanao in December, killed 1,067 and left 834 missing, according to the state disaster monitoring agency. Bopha damaged almost 37 billion pesos ($846 million) of infrastructure and farm output.

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