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Floods as typhoon hits Philippines

Residents in Manila have waded through waist-deep floodwater, dodging branches and flying debris as a powerful typhoon sent surging waves as tall as palm trees crashing over seawalls and submerging entire areas of the Philippines capital.

At least seven people have been killed, most of them in metropolitan Manila, which was already soaked by heavy monsoon rains ahead of Typhoon Nesat's arrival and where the old town areas by the bay suffered their worst flooding in decades.

Pounding rain obscured the view of anyone on the streets as soldiers and police scrambled to evacuate thousands of people in low-lying areas, where rivers and the sea spilled into shanties, hospitals, upmarket hotels and even the seaside US Embassy compound.

"It's flooded everywhere. We don't have a place to go for shelter. Even my motorcycle got filled with water," said motorist Ray Gonzales, one of thousands stranded by fast-rising floodwater.

The massive flooding came exactly a day after the sprawling, coastal city of 12 million held commemorations for the nearly 500 people killed during a 2009 cyclone, which dumped a month's rainfall in just 12 hours.

Typhoon Nesat hit ashore before dawn in eastern provinces and headed inland just north of Manila with up to an inch of rain per hour, half that of the storm two years ago, said government forecaster Samuel Duran.

The geography of the archipelago makes it a welcome mat for about 20 storms and typhoons forming in the Pacific each year but the latest onslaught still caught many by surprise.

In all, authorities ordered more than 100,000 people across the country to shelter from Typhoon Nesat's rains, winds of 75mph (120kph) and gusts of up to 93mph (150kph) - enough to bend street signs.

Along Manila's historic baywalk, cars and buses were stuck and residents struggled through floodwater as waves washed over the seawall, turning a six-lane highway into a huge brown river. Pavements and entrances to buildings were swamped and vehicles stranded along narrow streets.

Manila Hospital moved patients from its ground floor, where water was neck-deep, spokeswoman Evangeline Morales said. Hospital generators were flooded and the building had been without power since early morning. Emergency workers evacuated river areas in the city that are notorious for flooding.

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