'Pedring' leaves 16 dead

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

MANILA (Updated 1:21 a.m.) -- Sixteen people died after Typhoon "Pedring" (international codename: Nesat) pummeled the capital, Metro Manila, and several Luzon areas with heavy rains and strong winds on Tuesday, disaster officials said.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services (Pagasa) said the storm has maintained its strength and continues to move west northwest direction at 19 kilometers per hour (kph).

The storm is expected to leave the Philippines late Wednesday afternoon and head into the West Philippine Sea toward southern China.


At 10 p.m. Tuesday, the weather disturbance was 200 kilometers west northwest of Baguio City with maximum sustained winds of 150 kph and gustiness of up to 150 kph.

Storm signal number 2 remains in La Union, Pangasinan, Zambales, Tarlac, Benguet, and Ilocos Sur. Storm signal number 1 is still up in Bataan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Visacaya, Ifugao, Mt. Province, Kalinga, Abra, Ilocos Norte, Quirino, Bulacan and Metro Manila.

Malacañang announced late Tuesday that work in both private and public offices and classes in most levels will resume Wednesday except in school divisions where schools are used as evacuation centers.

Classes in some private and public preschool to high school are suspended in Malabon, Marikina, Navotas and Valenzuela. Some elementary schools in the cities of Manila, Quezon and Muntinlupa have canceled classes as classrooms are being used as evacuation centers.

Class suspensions were also announced in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon areas.

Pedring forced the closure of all government agencies on Tuesday except those involved in disaster mitigation efforts.

Office of the Civil Defense Director Benito Ramos said the number of casualties is likely to increase as landslides were reported in the Cordillera Administrative Region, one of the worst hit areas in Luzon.

The National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) said most death have occurred in metropolitan Manila.

The first reported death was a 1-year-old boy who drowned in Catanduanes after falling into a creek, the NDRRMC reported. As the typhoon's winds lashed Metro Manila, a mother and child were killed when their house was hit by a falling tree, and four were reported killed by a collapsing wall.

Two others drowned, while a man was buried in a landslide in Olongapo City and another died in traffic collision. Four girls and a baby were pinned to death by falling trees north of Manila, and three more children were missing.

Four people were unaccounted for in a landslide in mountainous Ifugao province, as were four fishermen while more than 50 others were rescued along eastern shores after their boats overturned in choppy seas. Forecasters warned of 12-foot-high (4-meter-high) waves.

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

Waters at the gates of the embassy compound reached chest-deep, and staff were told to stay home, spokeswoman Tina Malone said. "There was some flooding in the embassy. I don't know the extent. I'm not there right now."

Sessions in both houses of Congress and the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) were cancelled Tuesday due to the storm.

The Sofitel Philippine Plaza relocated its guests after flooding damaged areas of the high-end hotel on the shores of Manila Bay. Sirinate Meenakul, the hotel's regional communications director, said no guests or staff were injured. She did not say how many guests were there.

Pagasa said the high waves noted along Roxas Boulevard are swells that are generated by continuous push of strong winds.

Seasonal monsoon rains ahead of the typhoon plus winds pushing seawater inland had worsened the situation, forecaster Duran told the AP. "Land is saturated with rain so the next rain became run-off and was already floodwater," he said.

The wind sent storm surges over an embankment that then trapped water on the city side so that it "couldn't flow back to the bay," said Francis Tolentino, chairman of Metro Manila Development Authority.

Operations in Manila's three railway systems were also scuttled (Light Rail Transit 1 and 2 and Metro Rail Transit-3) and Cebu Pacific had to call off 12 flights going to Laoag, Tuguegarao and Caticlan due to the inclement weather.

Some 1,355 families or 6,112 persons were also affected in 12 municipalities and five provinces in Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon) and Bicol, the NDRRMC said in a report.

Of this number, 635 families representing 2,771 individuals were provided relief inside and outside evacuation centers.

The province of Albay, where the public storm signal was already lifted, conducted pre-emptive evacuation to a total of 21,547 families or 111,930 persons.

In Dagupan City, scores of families were evacuated to safety, including a two-year-old and his siblings, whose father was at a drinking spree while their mother was out assisting a blind-beggar.

The NDRRMC also reported Tuesday landslides in Catanduanes and Camarines Sur; tornado in Maconacon, Isabela; and power outage in Central and Northern Aurora, Northern Luzon, some areas in Calabarzon and Metro Manila.

The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country's largest power distributor, implemented emergency power interruptions in 50 percent of its franchise area, which include Cavite, Quezon City, Makati City and Muntinlupa City.

"We still cannot say as how long the outages will take as the weather is still raging. We are doing the best we can to restore power as soon as possible. Please bear with us,” Meralco said in its official Twitter account.

Yumul in a press briefing Tuesday afternoon said, however, that as soon as winds brought by Pedring weaken, power supply will be resumed.

He said classes in Metro Manila on Wednesday might not also be suspended as light rains are noted as of Tuesday afternoon. The winds, however, are still strong, he added.

The typhoon’s estimated rainfall amount is from 15 to 25 millimeters per hour within its 650 kilometers diameter.

Pagasa officials said they will continue to monitor Pedring’s movement as it continues to move away from the country.

President Benigno Aquino III, on a state visit to Japan, told Associated Press Television News he was confident that authorities were adequately responding to flooding. He said he believed power would be restored to most of the Philippine capital by Tuesday afternoon.

However, most of downtown was in darkness as night fell and cellphone coverage was interrupted.

He said in an earlier statement that the government had carried out preventive evacuations, and that nearly half of the Luzon areas served by the main power distributor were without electricity due to short circuits caused by high winds. (With AP/Liway C. Manantan-Yparaguirre/Sunnex)

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