Gener now a typhoon; Batanes under signal no. 3-A A +A
Monday, July 30, 2012
MANILA (Updated) -- The state weather bureau hoisted public storm warning signal number 3 over Batanes Group of Islands as “Gener” (international codename: Saola) intensified into a typhoon Monday afternoon.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said residents in Batanes will experience 100 to 185 kilometers per hour of winds as Gener continues to threaten extreme northern Luzon.
The typhoon battered Metro Manila and nearby provinces with heavy rains and gusty winds since Sunday night, killing at least four persons and displacing more than 3,000 families, said authorities.
Executive Director Benito Ramos of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said six persons also remain missing.
One of the fatalities identified as Ernest Flores had an asthma attack while he and other passengers were being rescued from M/V Shuttle Roro 1, an inter-island ferry that ran aground in rough seas late Sunday off central Romblon province.
The Philippine Coast Guard said the vessel with 57 passengers and 16 rolling cargoes onboard capsized at Looc Bay in Romblon due to rough seas caused by the storm, currently in the vicinity of extreme Northern Luzon.
Initial information received from Coast Guard Station in Romblon provided the ill-fated vessel was on its way Batangas from Dumaguit via Odiongan when it encountered rough sea condition.
The ship decided to take shelter at Looc Bay, but it accidentally ran aground about two nautical miles Southwest of Agoho Point, Looc, Tablas Island, Romblon, around 7 p.m. Sunday.
Captain Felix Solidio, master of the vessel, declared "abandon ship" when the vessel started to take in water and directed all passengers to transfer to the life raft.
Immediately, the Coast Guard dispatched a rescue team onboard two motorized banca to conduct search and rescue operation to said distressed vessel.
Upon arrival, the ship was found to be already 70 percent on fire. All passengers were eventually rescued.
Separately, two barges that drifted off of a Manila pier smashed into a row of wooden shanties on stilts in the city's Tondo slum community, destroying dozens of huts but causing no injuries.
Coast Guard officer Noli Casiano said residents fled from the wind and waves before the empty barges rammed their homes.
"We fled to safety as the waves suddenly grew strong and the wind howled," Ivy Rosario, a mother of two, told The Associated Press.
"When we came back, everything was destroyed," said Rosario, pointing to the debris-littered waters near where her home once stood. Some villagers jumped into the water to try to salvage floating belongings.
Another casualty due to Gener was Ronald Necor, 33, who died of drowning in Antique.
The storm has affected 5,816 families or 28,631 individuals in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, and Western Visayas. Nearly 2,900 families equivalent to 14,303 persons are still housed in evacuation centers as of Monday, the NDRRMC said.
Inclement weather caused by Gener also pushed the government to suspend classes in all levels in Metro Manila and work in state agencies, while 10 domestic flights were cancelled and 11 trips bound for Manila were diverted to the Clark International Airport in Pampanga.
Gener, packing maximum winds of 120 kph and gustiness of up to 150 kph, is moving north northwest at seven kph. It was located 240 kilometers east northeast of Basco, Batanes as of 10 p.m. Monday.
The typhoon is expected to be 245 kilometers northeast of Basco by Tuesday evening and 420 kilometers north of the same town by Wednesday evening. On Thursday evening, Pagasa forecast Gener to be outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility, or 640 kilometers north northwest of Basco.
While the Batanes Group of Islands is under signal number 3, the province of Cagayan, including the Calayan and Babuyan Group of Islands remain under signal number 2.
Signal number 1 remains hoisted over the provinces of Isabela, Kalinga and Apayao as of this posting Monday. Areas under signal number 2 will experience 61-100 kph of winds, while those in signal number 1 will be battered by 61-100 kph winds.
Pagasa said Gener is expected to enhance the southwest monsoon that will bring rains and moderate to strong winds over Luzon and Visayas especially the western section.
Residents living in low lying and mountainous areas are alerted against possible flashfloods and landslides. Likewise, those living in coastal areas under signal numbers 3 and 2 are alerted against big waves or storm surges generated by the typhoon.
Fishing boats and other small seacrafts are also advised not to venture out into the seaboard of Luzon and Visayas due to the combined effect of Typhoon "Gener" and the southwest monsoon. (Virgil Lopez/SDR/AP/Sunnex)