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11 missing in Philippine storm chaos
by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) June 23, 2011

Children swim in a flooded street after heavy rains in Valenzuela City, north of Manila on June 23, 2011. Ten fishermen were missing at sea and thousands of people fled their homes in the Philippines as Tropical Storm Meari unleashed widespread flooding, rescue workers said. Photo courtesy AFP.

Tropical Storm Meari caused chaos across the Philippines on Thursday, dumping heavy rains in the capital, leaving 11 people missing in other parts of the country and grounding dozens of flights.

Head-high floods swept through parts of Manila during the evening rush hour, leaving thousands of people stranded in their cars and others in their offices as traffic turned to gridlock.

Authorities said they had dispatched rescue workers in rubber boats to help residents of badly-affected riverside areas.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in Manila, but authorities said at least 11 people were missing and thousands of others had been forced to flee their flooded homes elsewhere in the Philippines.

More than 7,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the Bicol peninsula of the main island of Luzon, said Raffy Alejandro, civil defence officer for the mainly rural region.

Ten fishermen were declared missing after they failed to return to port in Bicol, Alejandro said, adding that heavy seas prevented authorities from launching a search operation.

A woman had also been washed away by a flash flood in Bicol and authorities did not know whether she was alive, Joey Salceda, governor of one of the provinces in the region, said in a television interview.

Aviation authorities cancelled at least 56 flights to and from Manila, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said. Thirty were foreign flights.

The state weather service said Meari had not directly hit Luzon, but it had caused a lot of damage across the island because it combined with seasonal monsoon weather and a tropical depression at sea.

It had packed maximum gusts of 90 kilometres (56 miles) an hour on Thursday, said government weather forecaster Sonny Pajarillo, adding that the storm could continue dumping rains on Luzon until Sunday.

An average of 20 storms and typhoons, some of them deadly, hit the Philippines every year.

Over the past six weeks, more than 50 people have been killed in a series of storms, one of which became a typhoon.

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China braces for tropical storm amid floods
Beijing (AFP) June 21, 2011
China, already hit by torrential downpours that have left more than 260 dead or missing, braced Tuesday for more rains and wind as a tropical storm neared its southern coast, weather authorities said. The state weather bureau said the storm was brewing at sea off the coast of Guangdong and Fujian provinces, and was likely to bring strong winds and heavy rain to the region over the next two d ... read more

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