‘Gener’ toll rises to 26; new LPA seenBy DJ Yap, Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Storm signals have gone down, except in Batanes province, but don’t leave home without an umbrella or raincoat just yet.
The weather bureau on Thursday downgraded storm signals across the country, leaving only the Batanes Group of Islands in the extreme north under Storm Signal No. 1, as Typhoon “Gener” made its exit and headed toward Taiwan.
The typhoon left at least 26 people dead and forced 180,000 to flee their homes in Metro Manila and 27 central and northern provinces.
The Coast Guard and other disaster-response groups reported having rescued 125 people from stricken sea vessels and flooded villages, according to Benito Ramos, the head of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
The death toll from Gener rose to 26 Thursday after two persons died from being hit by falling trees in Bohol, and a girl drowned in Ilocos Sur, the NDRRMC said.
Ramos identified the latest victims as Fernando Rellon Jr. and Jury Betaganzo. “They were hit by falling ipil-ipil trees,” he said.
Venice Sinopen, a Grade 3 pupil who drowned in San Ramon, Ilocos Sur province, was among the 12 new deaths reported to the NDRRMC Thursday, Ramos said.
“There were no classes and she might have gone swimming,” Ramos said.
There were three other drowning victims—Angelito Bicoy of Quezon, and Efren Salvacion and Patrick de la Rosa of Bulacan—and five other deaths from falling trees—Mary Jane Lima of Negros Occidental, Madeline Caminade of Iloilo City, Emilia and Andrei Pasugiron of Negros Oriental, and Augusto Campo of Misamis Oriental.
Gener left at least P2.13 million in damaged infrastructure and agricultural crops. “This figure could go up further,” Ramos said.
The NDRRMC said Gener also affected 331,588 people, 12,000 of them seeking shelter in 61 evacuation centers.
The 26 NDRRMC death toll apparently does not include a police report of three drowning deaths in Malabon City Thursday.
Three children—Eliza May Dolfino, 12, Angelina Nicole Gregorio, 12, and Patricia Gregorio, 11—drowned while reportedly playing in a flooded vacant lot inside the Artex compound at about 1 p.m. Thursday.
Malabon police chief Senior Superintendent Ferdinand Ampil said the three were playing while looking for scrap materials in a recently demolished house.
“They decided to jump into a nearby creek. Heavy rain had just fallen and it was still high tide, so the water could have been deep. They did not immediately surface,” he added.
The children, who were found by village watchmen, were rushed to Alfonso Clinic in Malabon but were pronounced dead on arrival at around 1:45 p.m.
Ampil said that residents in the area did not know the three victims who were apparently from Malinta, Valenzuela City.
More rains, strong winds
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said Luzon and Western Visayas will continue to experience rains and strong winds, especially in the western sections because of the southwest monsoon.
The rest of the country will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies, with isolated rainshowers and thunderstorms, Pagasa said.
Strong to gale-force winds are also expected to affect the seaboards of Luzon and the Visayas, and the seas will be rough to very rough.
The sea will be rough in Luzon’s western and southern seaboards as well as the western seaboard of the Visayas, where the waves may reach between 3.4 and 5.5 meters.
Fishing boats and other small seacraft were advised not to venture out sea while larger sea vessels were alerted against big waves.
Back into a storm, new LPA
Meanwhile, the weakened Gener has been reclassified back into a tropical storm.
At 4 p.m. Thursday, Gener was estimated at 430 kilometers north of Basco, Batanes, packing maximum sustained winds of 110 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 140 kph. It is forecast to move north northwest at 9 kph.
By Friday, the eye of the storm is expected to be 590 km north northwest of Basco, Batanes, and out of Philippine territory, Pagasa said.
Gener (international name: Saola) made landfall in Taiwan on Thursday and had already been blamed by local media for seven deaths in the territory.
Four Philippine Airlines flights to and from Taipei were canceled at Ninoy Aquino International Airport because of adverse weather conditions in Taiwan.
The heavy rains and strong winds in Taipei also resulted in delays of at least five international flights to and from Taipei, according to the Manila International Airport Authority.
Meanwhile, a new low pressure area (LPA) has been observed in the Pacific Ocean east of the Philippines, though still relatively far away.
“Based on Pagasa’s numerical models, within the next few days, the LPA may just hit the sides of the Philippine area of responsibility. It is not expected to directly hit the country,” said forecaster Raymond Ordinario.
If the LPA intensifies into a storm, it will be named “Helen,” he said.
State of calamity
The Valenzuela City government has declared a state of calamity in 18 villages which remain submerged in floodwaters after two weeks of heavy rain.
The declaration of a state of calamity will allow city officials to access calamity funds to help the affected villages: Arkong Bato, Balangkas, Bisig, Coloong, Dalandanan, Isla, Mabolo, Malanday, Malinta, Palasan, Pariancillo Villa, Pasolo, Poblacion, Polo, Rincon, Tagalag, Veinte Reales and Wawang Pulo. Classes remain suspended in 12 schools in the affected villages.
As of Thursday, public information officer Ahna Mejia said around 269 families from 11 barangays remain in 16 evacuation centers in the city, as floodwaters remain knee- to waist-deep in several areas .
Meanwhile, the Navotas City government, which declared a state of calamity on Wednesday, suspended classes in all public in private schools and in all levels Thursday, as the inclement weather threatened to bring more flash floods.
Floods in some villages remained knee-deep after water from a 1.9-m high tide in the morning breached river walls, and damaged pumping stations failed to pump the water out.
A total of 512 families remained in evacuation centers Thursday, and some 160 houses were partly destroyed by the floods, the city government said.
Third fatality in Cordilleras
Two residents of Itogon, Benguet, died on Tuesday after they were buried by landslides, adding a third fatality in the wake of Gener.
Rescue workers recovered the body of a 34-year-old farmer, Efren Forawit, who disappeared on July 31 after he crossed the Chico River in Sadanga, Mt. Province, to visit his farm. His body was recovered in Barangay Mapacu in Pinukpuk, Kalinga, on Wednesday.
The local Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said two 15-year-old boys from Buguias, Benguet, identified as Jerry Turo and John Regueros, had been reported missing.
The OCD said authorities evacuated 127 families, composed of 598 people, from La Trinidad, Benguet, and Baguio City.
Several Cordillera roads remained closed to traffic Thursday while work crews rushed repairs and clearing operations.
The Philex Mining Corp. and other mining firms operating in the Cordilleras Thursday said their tailings dams remain safe and stable, contrary to reports that they said had panicked lowland communities.
A text message traced to a sender in Ampucao village in Itogon, Benguet, claimed that an explosion had damaged Philex’s tailings dam on Thursday.
The reports turned out to be false as Philex engineers had inspected the firm’s facilities and reported that their tailings pond remains intact, said Felizardo Gacad, Cordillera mines division chief of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
Salvador Olinares, chief of the Baguio weather station, said Baguio City received 464 millimeters of rain in a 24-hour period from Wednesday to Thursday, about double the 246-mm rainfall volume recorded from Tuesday to Wednesday. The Monday-to-Tuesday rainfall volume was recorded at 242 mm.
But the volume of rain that fell over Baguio City has not exceeded the rains accompanying Typhoon “Pepeng” in 2009, which was recorded at 600 mm for a 24-hour period, Olinares said.
“Thursday’s rains were not even dumped by Typhoon ‘Gener’ anymore. We have been experiencing enhanced monsoon rains. It is the rainy season after all,” he said.
The city disaster risk reduction and management council recorded minor landslides and toppled trees around the city since Monday, which caused power outages, but power has been restored by Benguet Electric Cooperative in most parts of the city.
Floods in Pangasinan
At least 20 villages in two Pangasinan towns and in Dagupan City remain submerged in floodwaters, prompting school officials to suspend classes in the grade school levels in those areas.
Reports from the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council said four villages in Sta. Barbara town and four villages in Calasiao town were flooded because of the swollen Sinocalan and Marusay rivers that traverse the towns.
Twelve villages were also under water in Dagupan City because of the high tide.
At 4 a.m. Thursday, the Agno River Basin Flood Forecasting and Warning Center in Rosales town recorded an average rainfall of 116.5 mm in the past 60 hours, causing the province’s three river systems to swell.
As of noon Thursday, the water elevation at San Roque Dam in San Manuel town was
274.51 meters above sea level (masl), which is only 5.49 m from its spilling level of 280 masl.
The Ambuklao and Binga dams in Benguet have been discharging water due to heavy rains in the province. Ambuklao has four gates open at 6 m while Binga has six gates open at 10 m.
Water released by both dams flows into the San Roque reservoir.
Gener caused at least P7 million worth of damage to rice fields and infrastructure in Western Visayas.
The OCD in Western Visayas reported that as of yesterday, 3,394 families, or 14,708 persons, were affected by flooding in the provinces of Iloilo, Antique, Aklan and Negros Occidental.
Three persons died and nine others were injured in the region. Nineteen-year-old Alfred Gumban of Balabag village in Pavia town in Iloilo remains missing and is believed to have drowned on July 31.
Negros Occidental provincial agriculturist Igmedio Tabianan said the damage to the province’s palay crop had reached P5,568,595.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported having rescued four fishermen whose motorboat capsized on Wednesday off El Nido, Palawan, because of strong winds and rough seas.
Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo, the PCG spokesperson, identified the fishermen as Michael Abay-Abay, 36; Crisante Tabat, 42; Abner Binavidez, 20; and Meliton dela Cerna, 42, all residents of Lipay village, Sta. Cruz, Zambales.
Meanwhile, three fishing fishing boats sank off Aguauan village in Mariveles, Bataan, on Tuesday after the craft was battered by big waves.
The PCG in Mariveles reported that a crew member of one of the fishing boats, Archangel Vicoy of San Jose, Antique, was reported missing by his companions.
Also in Mariveles, the Korean-registered cargo vessel Ocean Galaxy with 18 crew members on board ran aground early this week off Canas Point in the southern Bataan town.
The vessel was dragged by huge waves and subsequently ran aground 800 yards off Canas Point, the PCG said, adding that the crew members were safe and there had been no signs of oil leakage.
Meanwhile, the PCG station at the Subic Bay Freeport in Zambales reported that it had rescued all seven crew members of the South Korean tugboat, Kosco 202, which sank Thursday about 10 nautical miles west of Capones island in Zambales.
Balilo said the PCG sent a search-and-rescue vessel to Capones island at 3.30 a.m. Thursday in response to a distress call from the tugboat.
“All seven crew members, including the captain, were rescued at around 11 a.m.” and were on their way to Subic, said Balilo. With reports from Jerry E. Esplanada, Nathaniel R. Melican, Jerome Aning, in Manila; Vincent Cabreza, Frank Cimatu, Gabriel Cardinoza and Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Nestor P. Burgos Jr. and Carla Gomez, Inquirer Visayas