Philippines braces for more wild weather

Manila braced on Tuesday for more wet weather and authorities rushed relief supplies to the remote northern Philippines as a new storm -- expected to trigger flashfloods and landslides -- closed in.

Tropical storm Kai-tak was forecast to hit the east coast of Luzon, the country's main island, on Wednesday morning, then pass over mountainous regions before heading towards Taiwan, the state weather bureau said.

Civil defence chief Benito Ramos warned that the northern parts of the Philippines were vulnerable after weeks of heavy downpours.

"The ground is already saturated so even if the rain is intermittent, it will still cause landslides and flooding," he told AFP.

Although the capital Manila will not be directly hit by the storm, it will still suffer heavy downpours, just days after floods covered wide parts of the metropolis and killed 95 people.

"Manila can be flooded again even if it is outside the storm's (area), it will be affected because the diameter of the tropical storm is wide enough to affect even Metropolitan Manila," he said.

Although the floodwaters have receded in most of the capital, some areas remained covered with water, including vital farming regions, and authorities warned the new storm would bring more misery to residents there.

The government had initially said Kai-tak would start dumping up to 35 millimetres (1.3 inches) of rain an hour over large areas of Luzon beginning Monday night, triggering warnings of more mass evacuations from officials.

But as of noon Tuesday, parts of Luzon were only experiencing scattered, light rain.

"We are rushing to pre-position relief items to the northern areas ahead of this storm," Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman told AFP.

"We wanted to make sure that we have enough supplies there just in case areas get cut off by landslides or floods."

Kai-tak had already claimed one life when a farmer suffered a seizure, fell into a flooded rice field and drowned on Monday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in a statement.

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