Glenda death toll rises to 20

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Thursday, July 17, 2014


MANILA (Updated) -- Typhoon Glenda (Rammasun) roared through the Philippines, killing at least 20 people, knocking out power in many areas and damaging a parked jetliner, but the country's sprawling capital was largely spared when the storm's fierce winds shifted direction, officials said.

Glenda's winds of 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 185 kph (115 mph) brought down trees and electric posts and ripped off roofs across Manila, the capital of 12 million people, shutting government offices and schools.

More than 370,000 people moved from high-risk villages to emergency shelters in six of the nation's provinces.

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The storm weakened before blowing out of the country later Wednesday, heading toward northern Vietnam or China's Hainan Island, forecaster Jori Loiz said.

He said Glenda could regain strength while crossing the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

In a shantytown at the edge of Manila Bay, hundreds of people fled when strong winds tore tin roofs. Most were drenched before they reached an evacuation center with the help of emergency workers.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said he was relieved there were no reported deaths after the typhoon sideswiped his city, although its winds still downed trees and damaged seaside shanties, prompting more than 1,000 residents to evacuate.

"It was like a drill," he said. "We hauled people away from dangerous seaside areas, whether they liked it or not."

(Video by Al Padilla/Sunnex)

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported at least 20 deaths elsewhere, mostly people pinned by falling trees and electrical posts.

Among the fatalities are Reynaldo Meneses Hernandez, 49, of Tabang, Plaridel, Bulacan; Mario T. Paulo, 52, of Burgos, San Antonio, Zambales; Naneth Sibuc Artifacio, Arlyn Artifacio Cabaleda, and Adrian Cibuc Artifacio of Lucena City; Angelica Guarinio of Taytay, Rizal; 11-month-old Reynce Benedict Laborada of Gen. Trias, Cavite; Cristituto Tolentino of Indang, Cavite; Felizardo Ramos of Binangonan, Rizal; Rodel de Luna of Padre Burgos; Butch Ranin, 58, of Unisan Quezon; Angelica Arroyo, 70, of Cainta Rizal; Nonito Lancion Loslos of Mogpog, Marinduque; Isabela Riego Rivamonte of Marinduque; Estelita Sapungan of Gasan, Marinduque; Rudy Atienza of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro; Jaymark Siason of Magsaysay, Occidental Mindoro; Reynaldo Rubia and Anna Rubia of Ragay, Camarines Sur; and Lourdes Ongray Lim of Allen, Northern Samar.

At Manila's international airport, the left wing of a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 was damaged after strong gusts pushed it against a bridge passageway, said manager Angel Honrado. No one was injured.

Three fishermen were reported missing in Catanduanes, near Albay province, where Glenda made landfall late Tuesday. Two others remained missing in Iloilo City and Marinduque, bringing the total missing persons to five, said the NDRRMC.

There were no immediate estimates of the damage in communities that lost power and telephone connections while being pummeled by the wind and rain.

But Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said 60 to 70 percent of electricity customers or around 4.5 million people in Luzon were still in the dark after Glenda devastated several transmission lines in the island.

Petilla said that "no estimated time yet as to when power will be restored, especially in hardest hit areas like Calabarzon region."

He added that generation plants in Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Bicol regions are unable to deliver power because the Southern Luzon Grid remains down.

"It's difficult to (set) target when you haven't measured the damage. So first thing is to measure (the extent made by Typhoon Glenda)," Petilla said.

He said the Department of Energy (DOE), National Electrification Agency (NEA) and the country's largest power distributor Manila Electric Company (Meralco) will try to put back power as quickly as possible.

"We are currently assessing the extent of the damages in our distribution facilities including poles, transformers, wires and sub-transmission lines," Meralco spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga said.

He noted that around 86 percent of Meralco customers are still without electricity.

In Samar Province, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines is working double time to restore electricity. As of 8 p.m. Wednesday, power was restored in Calbayog City, Samar. Some towns in Northern Samar though remained without electricity as of this posting.

With last year's massive devastation and deaths from Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) still on the minds of many, officials said people readily evacuated after being told of the danger.

Polangui Mayor Cherilie Mella Sampal said 10,000 of the 80,000 residents in Albay town, about 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila, left homes before the typhoon struck Tuesday.

Sampal said she saw winds topple electric posts and lift roofs off houses.

She said residents were worried after witnessing Yolanda's horrific aftermath in the central Philippines last November. At least 6,300 people died and more than 1,000 were left missing from that storm.

"We're used to and prepared for calamities," Sampal said. "But when people heard that the eye of the typhoon will hit the province, they feared we may end up like the victims" of Yolanda.

Glenda, the Thai term for god of thunder, is the seventh storm to batter the Philippines this year. It is expected to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) Thursday, July 17.

But Nedz Saletrero, Mactan Station weather specialist of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), said that residents of Cebu, which was earlier placed under storm signal, can expect cloudy and isolated rainshowers and thunderstorms until Saturday.

“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.

About 20 typhoons and storms lash the archipelago on the western edge of the Pacific each year, making it one of the world's most disaster-prone countries. (AP/With Gerwin Babon/Jean Mondonedo-Ynot/Sun.Star Cebu/Sunnex)

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