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(UPDATE) Officials say 40 people are dead after tropical storm floods north

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Officials say 40 people are dead after tropical storm floods northern Philippines.

Meanwhile, the government placed the national capital Metro Manila and about two dozen provinces in Luzon region under state of calamity as heavy rains caused by a tropical storm submerged roads and flooded homes, forcing nearly two thousand people to be evacuated.

National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) chair Gilberto Teodoro made the announcement at a disaster-relief briefing here in Manila as the state weather bureau reported tropical storm Ketsana triggered epic rainfall in six hours ended 2 p.m. Saturday, breaking the 1967-record of 334 millimeters in a 24-hour period.

At least 1,813 people were evacuated from their homes, the government's disaster relief agency said while a local radio report said nine people might have been killed. But the casualty report can't be immediately confirmed.

Most parts of the central Luzon experienced severe flooding. In Metro Manila, around 33 villages have been flooded and 37 road sections are closed to traffic, the NDCC said in its latest bulletin.

People live in squatter areas climb to their rooftops with valuables while kids swim in the rising floodwaters. In street with waist-deep floods, enterprising local residents used wooden board and plastic as makeshift "boats" to ferry commuters.

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A dozen of domestic and international flights were canceled and more than 1,800 passengers were stranded in ports.

Floods and power blackouts also forced organizers to postpone the opening matches of the 15th Asian Senior Men's Volleyball Championship, scheduled to be held in the Philippine capital on Saturday.

Ketsana, locally known as Ondoy, made the landfall at northeastern Philippine coast at Saturday noon. It packed winds up to 85 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and is forecast to move west-northwest at a speed of 19 kph. - with Xinhua

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