Nearly a month’s worth of rain fell in six hours on Saturday as Tropical Storm Ketsana slammed ashore in the Philippines, killing five people and stranding thousands on rooftops in the capital’s worst flooding in more than 42 years.

The government declared a “state of calamity” in metropolitan Manila and about two dozen storm-hit provinces, said Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, who heads the National Disaster Coordinating Council. That allows officials to use emergency money for relief and rescue.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had to take an elevated commuter train to the disaster council office to preside over a meeting because roads were clogged by vehicles stuck in the floodwaters. Two people were reported killed in suburban Muntinglupa and three others in Quezon city, said a spokesman. He gave no details.

The Mayor of Cainta in nearby Rizal province, who was stranded atop a dump truck on a road that was neck-deep in water, told ABS-CBN television by phone that many residents climbed onto roofs to escape. “The whole town is almost 100 per cent underwater,” said Mayor Mon Ilagan.

A month’s rainfall

About 34.1 cm of rain fell on metropolitan Manila in just six hours, close to the 39.2 cm average for the entire month of September. The previous record was 33.4 cm recorded during a 24-hour period in June 1967, a weather forecaster.

“However good your drainage system is, it will be overwhelmed by that amount of rainfall,” he told AP.

He said poor maintenance of drains and waterways clogged with garbage compounded the problem.

An official said monsoon rains were intensified by the storm , which packed winds of 85 kmph with gusts of up to 100 kmph when it hit land early Saturday about 80 km northeast of Manila.

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