Storm tows barge

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Thursday, July 17, 2014


A BARGE loaded with coal for a Cebu power plant ran aground in Barangay Tulay, Minglanilla, after typhoon Glenda’s winds carried it away from the City of Naga, where it had been anchored, last Tuesday night.

The barge’s crew of 10 Indonesians survived after local fishermen rescued them from the vessel.

Glenda is expected to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) today. But Nedz Saletrero, Mactan Station weather specialist of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), said that residents of Cebu can expect cloudy and isolated rainshowers and thunderstorms until Saturday.

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“We can expect rains again on Sunday because of a tropical depression heading toward the PAR,” she said in a phone interview.

Saletrero said the tropical depression is expected to enter the Philippine territory on Friday and may follow the same path taken by Glenda, but added it was still too early to predict its movement.

In Luzon, Glenda knocked out power in many areas and damaged a parked jetliner, but Metro Manila was largely spared when the storm’s fierce winds shifted direction.

Glenda (international name: Rammasun) unleashed winds of 150 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 185 kph, bringing down trees and electric posts and ripping off roofs.

Around 370,000 people moved from high-risk villages to emergency shelters in six provinces.

The initial death toll ranged from 12 to 20 persons, but is expected to rise.

‘Pope’ grounded

A fire volunteer died when he was hit by a block of concrete while hauling down a Philippine flag in Pasig, said Francis Tolentino, chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

Rammasun, the Thai term for god of thunder, is the seventh storm to batter the Philippines this year.

From Cebu, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) allowed all vessels to resume their trips at 6 a.m. yesterday, except for the MV St. Pope John Paul, which was bound for Manila.

At Mactan Airport, General Manager Nigel Paul Villarete said 34 flights were cancelled because of typhoon Glenda.

Seven flights of Philippine Airlines, 12 flights of Cebu Pacific and five flights from Air Asia were evacuated from Manila to Cebu.

The Department of Education (DepEd) in Central Visayas reported there was no major damage to public schools, especially in northern Cebu, as a result of typhoon Glenda.

Dr. Carmelita Dulangon, DepEd 7 director, said makeshift classrooms in Bantayan Island, which were installed after typhoon Yolanda, were affected. But she assured the problem was manageable.

Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes did not suspend the classes yesterday. In Lapu-Lapu, students and teachers stayed home as Mayor Paz Radaza suspended the classes in elementary and secondary schools.

Classes

Classes resumed in elementary and secondary schools in Cebu City yesterday morning, but intermittent rain prompted Mayor Michael Rama to order a 3 p.m. dismissal.

The Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CCDRRMC) recommended the move.

Classes in the city’s night high schools were also suspended last night.

Councilor Dave Tumulak, who chairs the CCDRRMC, said no major incidents were recorded, except for a landslide in Barangay Tagbao late Tuesday afternoon.

It covered part of the road, but barangay officials cleared the area yesterday.

Dulangon revealed that despite announcements by the Cebu Provincial Government to suspend all public elementary and secondary classes yesterday, some local governments chose to proceed with classes. (Only the chief executive of a municipality or city can suspend classes during calamities, she explained.)

Dulangon confirmed that the cities of Toledo, Carcar, Mandaue and some local governments in southern Cebu did not suspend classes, as Glenda did not hit them directly.

Crew safe

The cargo vessel that ran aground in Minglanilla was in Cebu to deliver coal to the Korean Power Company’s plant in the City of Naga, said PO2 Vincent Alinabo, Minglanilla Police Station desk officer.

The vessel, which is registered in Indonesia, docked in Naga last July 1 and was awaiting clearance to sail back to Indonesia when typhoon Glenda arrived.

Mohammad Hasan, the chief mate, told police their barge was anchored off Barangay Colon around 8 p.m. last Tuesday, just as strong winds were starting to blow.

The crew stayed in a separate tugboat, and reportedly didn’t notice that the rope holding the barge’s anchor had been detached.

When they noticed the barge was moving away, Hasan and two crew members immediately went to the vessel and tried to maneuver it to safety, but strong winds made the task impossible.

The barge, which can carry about 8,000 tons of coal, was swept toward Barangay Tulay in Minglanilla, about six kilometers away from Barangay Colon, then ran aground.

‘Seriously’

Alinabo said that the police responded after a barangay councilor came to their station to report the emergency.

Cebu’s Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) received no reports about casualties or damage caused by typhoon Glenda.

Dennis Chiong, chief of operations of the PDRMMO, said that most people “really take advisories seriously” nowadays. He cited the preparation of evacuation centers and family food packs by local governments.

But while Glenda is set to leave the country today, Olivia Luces, director of the Office of the Civil Defense 7, said people should remain vigilant, considering the rain.

“Once saturated na ang kalupaan (Once the land is saturated), it is prone to landslides,” Luces said.

Some mayors of northern Cebu towns, which suffered the most in the province when Yolanda struck last November, said there was no major damage yesterday.

Medellin Mayor Ricky Ramirez said three pump boats were damaged in the Alpine wharf in Barangay Kawit. No one was injured.

Vigilance

In Daanbantayan, Mayor Augusto Corro said they evacuated 20 families last Tuesday to the barangay hall when the sea level rose in Sitio Suba, Barangay Talisay.

Corro said they were allowed to go home once the weather cleared.

San Francisco Mayor Aly Arquillano said no injuries were recorded in his community.

Disaster responders in the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu monitored coastal and riverside villages as heavy rains brought by typhoon Glenda fell Tuesday night and yesterday morning, but no evacuations were enforced.

In Mandaue, members of the Traffic Enforcement Agency of Mandaue (Team) went around the city and gave hourly updates to the City Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Office.

Glenn Antigua, Team’s assistant for operations, said the volume of water in the Butuanon and Mahiga rivers increased.

Watching rivers

But no landslides in mountain barangays and floods, he said, were reported.

“We still monitor the rivers from time to time,” he told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday afternoon.

No evacuations were enforced in coastal areas in Lapu-Lapu, said City Administrator Teodulo Ybañez.

Most sea trips from Cebu to other parts of the country resumed yesterday.

Commander Rodolfo Villajuan, chief of the Coast Guard Station Cebu, said that there were about 29 vessels which were not allowed to sail the other night but resumed operations yesterday morning.

The one that wasn’t allowed to sail, because it was headed for the typhoon’s path, had 860 passengers on board.

Other vessels using the ports in Argao, Barangay Bato in Santander, Tanguil in Dumanjug, Toledo City and Tabuelan were also not allowed to operate last Tuesday night.

An estimated 1,332 passengers were affected in Cebu’s ports alone. (With an Associated Press report)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 17, 2014.

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