Rescuers move in as flooding eases

Widespread flooding that killed at least 11 people and paralysed the Philippine capital has begun to ease as rescue efforts focused on a large number of distressed residents, some still marooned on their roofs.

Government forecasters said the monsoon rains that overflowed major dams and rivers in Manila and surrounding provinces would gradually abate and lead to sunny weather after 12 days of relentless downpours.

The deluge was the worst since 2009 when hundreds died in flash floods.

"We're still on a rescue mode," said Benito Ramos, who heads the government's main disaster response agency. "Floods are receding in many areas but people are still trapped on their roofs."

Mr Ramos said the massive flooding turned half of Manila into "a water world" on Monday evening and into Tuesday. Eleven died, including nine in a landslide in Quezon City, a Manila suburb, while 1.2 million people were affected. They included 783,000 who fled their inundated homes in two days of intense rains and flooding.

Rescue efforts have shifted into high gear, with more than 130 emergency crews from two provinces reaching the capital city of 12 million people to help their overwhelmed teams, including police and army troops.

Manila was drenched with more than half of a month's worth of rain in 24 hours. A storm off eastern China that intensified the south-west monsoon moved away and the weather started improving, according to government forecaster Glaiza Escullar. TV footage showed rescuers dangling on ropes to take children and other residents to safety from flooded houses across the city. Many residents trapped in their homes called radio and TV stations desperately asking for help.

ABC-CBN TV network reported receiving frantic calls from people whose relatives were trapped in the deluge, many without food since Tuesday morning. They included a pregnant woman with a baby who wanted to be rescued from a roof and about 55 people who scrambled to the third floor of a Quezon City house as water rose below them.

Vehicles and even heavy trucks struggled to navigate water-clogged roads, where hundreds of thousands of commuters were stranded. Many cars were stuck in the muddy waters.Traffic is still light as workers began cleaning roads of debris, heaps of waste and fallen trees.

In 2009, massive flooding spawned by a typhoon devastated Manila and surrounding areas, killing hundreds. The state weather bureau said the current flooding is not as severe.