Tropical Storm 'Helen' to leave Thursday; kills 7-A A +A
Thursday, August 16, 2012
MANILA (Updated) -- Tropical Storm Helen (international codename: Kai-Tak) has accelerated as it moves west northeast after it slammed ashore Wednesday morning in northeastern Isabela province, killing at least seven persons and warning others for more flooding.
“Helen” made landfall over Palanan, Isabela, at 1 a.m. Wednesday, with maximum sustained winds of 100 kilometers per hour (kph) and higher gusts, the weather bureau said in its Twitter account.
But 15 hours later since interacting with landmass, "Helen" has weakened to 75 kph near the center with gustiness of up to 90 kph.
Spotted some 190 kilometer (km) west northwest of Laoag City as of 10 p.m., the storm has started moving toward the West Philippine Sea in preparation for exit by Thursday afternoon, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said in its 11 p.m. Wednesday bulletin.
Forecasters said “Helen” might possibly turn into a powerful typhoon heading toward southern China in the direction of Hong Kong. It is expected to be out of the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) at 230 kilometers west northwest of Laoag City by early Thursday morning.
The head of the disaster-relief agency, Benito Ramos, reported seven deaths, including a one-year-old child from Ilocos Norte.
The fatalities were identified as Armando Valde Borbon, 37, an epileptic who slipped in a flooded rice field in sitio Pinalapa, Dumpay, Basista in Pangasinan; Andrew Mariano Batara, 47, a village watchman of Madamba, Dingras, Ilocos Norte, who drowned while swimming; one year old Princess Nathalie Jamon, of Barangay San Pedro, Paoay, Ilocos Norte, who died due to drowning; Savino Masangcay Mosquite, 44, of Barangay Lioac, Naguillan, La Union, who died due to electrocution; Fernando Dingayen, 49, of Sitio Hilltop, Talifugo, Conner, Apayao, who was hit by a falling tree; and landslide victims Ekmer Domines and Jonaphe Pandosen, both residents of Baguio City.
Two persons identified as Rodolfo Tayas and Winifredo Tojon of Camarines Norte were declared missing, while Marcos Baniguen of Baguio City was injured.
Aside from the fatalities, Ramos said some roads were also flooded knee-deep and the government warned of intense rains that may drench the sprawling Metro Manila that is still reeling from last week’s monsoon deluge.
Among the flooded areas were San Fernando, Bacnotan, Bauang and Luna-Bangar Road in La Union province, and Calasiao, Alaminos City, and Sta. Barbara in Pangasinan.
Damage on the agriculture sector due to recent weather disturbances has climbed to P1.18 billion.
Agriculture Undersecretary Joel Rudinas said that of the total damage cost, P723 million came from farm production, while P459.28 million came from the destroyed infrastructure like farm to market roads, poultry housing and irrigation facilities, among others.
The production loss was recorded on rice, corn, high value crops, livestock and fisheries in 27 provinces in Luzon and Visayas region, he said.
Batanes Group of Islands, Cagayan, Calayan, Babuyan Group of Islands, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Kalinga, Apayao, Benguet, La Union, Abra, Mt. Province and Ifugao are placed under public storm signal number 1.
Pagasa said these areas are expected to experience 45 to 60 kph winds within the next 24 hours.
Residents living in low-lying and mountainous areas under public storm signal no 1 are alerted against possible flash floods and landslides.
Classes in pre-school levels are automatically suspended in areas under storm signal no. 1.
In Baguio City and La Trinidad, Benguet, more than 500 individuals were placed under preemptive evacuation as rains brought by Tropical Storm Helen resulted in rising of water levels at City Camp Lagoon.
Threats of landslides were also noted in several critical areas.
The Cordillera Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on Wednesday said some 107 families were evacuated in City Camp, Lower QM and Lower Lourdes, while two families were also evacuated in Puguis and Pico villages.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that a unified Twitter hashtag will be used for declaring class and work suspensions to keep the public updated and informed of such notices.
Lacierda said the unified hashtag #walangpasok will be used by the official Twitter accounts of the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, the Department of Education and the People’s Television Network.
He also urged government units, institutions, and the media to follow suit.
“We ask the official Twitter accounts of local government units (LGUs), schools, colleges, and universities, to use the unified hashtag #walangpasok when announcing class suspensions,” Lacierda said in a statement.
The Official Gazette’s Twitter account will also use the hashtag to announce work suspensions as it will help the National Government, LGUs, media, and the public to track all such announcements, he said.
He added this will make news reporting on both traditional and new media reach “to the greatest number of people at the soonest possible time.”
Last week, the government asked the public to report damages sustained by national roads due to the southwest monsoon through a unified hashtag, #lubak2normal.
The archipelago located in the tropical far western Pacific serves like a welcome mat for about 20 tropical storms and typhoons that develop in the open ocean and blow toward Asia every year.
Heavy rain from those storms and the annual monsoon often cause flooding and landslides and leave a trail of death and destruction. (AP/Virgil Lopez/Emmanuel Louis Bacani/SDR/JM Agreda of Sun.Star Baguio/Sunnex)