Torrential rains brought the Philippine capital Manila to a standstill Monday, submerging some areas in waist-deep floodwaters and making streets impassable to vehicles while thousands of people across coastal and mountainous northern regions fled to emergency shelters.
The national disaster agency and local officials reported at least three dead, 11 injured and four missing.
The dead included a five-year-old boy whose house was hit by a concrete wall that collapsed. His two adult relatives also were injured.
Schools, offices, the stock exchange, courts and embassies were closed as the weather bureau placed metropolitan Manila — a sprawling area of 12 million people — under red alert. Officials from several flood-hit cities and provinces have announced that classes will remain suspended on Tuesday.
The flooding following a night of heavy rains brought by the monsoon, which was 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 of rain per hour.
Government weather forecaster Jori Loiz said as of late Monday, Trami was 580 kilometres east of northern Itbayat island, crawling eastward at seven km/h. It is expected to exit the Philippines by Wednesday or Thursday and move toward China.
He said heavy rains are expected to again drench metropolitan Manila and nearby provinces Monday night and advised residents in flood-prone areas to be on alert.
TV footage showed residents trapped on rooftops as raging floodwaters swept through Binan town on Lake Laguna, near Manila.
Flooding has become more frequent in Manila because of deforestation of mountains, clogged waterways and canals where large squatter communities live and poor urban planning.
Police and army rescue 29 tourists
In the chilly northern mountain town of Sagada, army troops and police rescued 29 tourists, including 13 Japanese, 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 Defense official Andrew Alex Uy said. One Filipino tourist remained missing.
Several dams in Luzon were forced to open floodgates because of rising waters and thousands of residents downstream were told to move.
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 farther north, local authorities said flash floods forced thousands to take refuge in schools and other sturdy buildings.
Waters started receding in some parts of Manila and neighbouring areas Monday afternoon and roads were reopening.
Forecasters said the storm was expected to strengthen into a typhoon with winds of up to 120 km/h as it slowly moves away from the Philippines, passing just south of Japan's Okinawa by Wednesday.
The Philippine archipelago is among the most battered by typhoons and storms in the world. About 20 tropical cyclones hit the country every year.