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‘Labuyo’ hits Bicol; 42 fishers missing

By , Shiena Barrameda Maricar Cinco Madonna Virola

LEGAZPI CITY—At least 42 fishermen went missing in waters off Catanduanes and Camarines Norte, while more than 7,500 people and 200 vehicles were stranded at ports across four regions as Typhoon “Labuyo” swept into the country on Sunday.

Thirty-three of the missing fishermen were from Catanduanes. Fourteen of the 33 were from the town of Pandan, eight were from Gigmoto, eight were from Virac and three were from Bagamanoc, according to Edna Bagadiong, a spokesperson for the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and  Management Council.

Storm Signal No. 1 was raised over Metro Manila on Sunday, prompting the suspension of classes in the preschool and elementary levels on Monday.

The number of missing fishermen was initially put at 33, but nine more, from Mercedes town, Camarines Norte province, were reported missing on Sunday afternoon.

Bagadiong said the fishermen sailed on Saturday despite typhoon warnings.

Moving west-northwest

Labuyo (international name: Utor) swept into the region with winds of 150 kilometers per hour and gusts of 185 kph.

The typhoon was located 110 kilometers north-northeast of Virac as of 3 p.m. on Sunday. It was moving west-northwest at a steady speed of 19 kph, which should bring it directly over Aurora province early on Monday, according to state weather bureau forecasters.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) raised Signal No. 3 over the provinces of Aurora, Nueva Vizcaya, Mountain Province, Quirino, Benguet, Ifugao, Nueva Ecija, Isabela and the island of Polillo, where winds of 101 kph to 185 kph could be expected on Monday.

The weather bureau raised Signal No. 2 over the provinces of Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Rizal, Quezon (the northern part), Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Abra, Apayao, Kalinga and Cagayan, which could expect winds of 61 kph to 100 kph.

Signal No. 1 was hoisted over Metro Manila, Albay, Sorsogon, Laguna, Ilocos Norte, Zambales, Bataan, Cavite, Batangas, and the rest of Quezon, as well as over the Calayan and the Babuyan island groups where winds of 45 kph to 60 kph could be expected.

12th this year

Pagasa officer in charge Vicente Malano told a televised news conference that Labuyo, the 12th tropical cyclone to enter the Philippine area of responsibility and so far the strongest to hit the country this year, could gather strength over the Philippine Sea before it slams into northeastern Aurora on Monday.

Malano alerted residents in the threatened provinces, particularly those living in low-lying and mountainous areas, to watch out for flash floods and landslides.

He said the estimated rainfall was heavy to intense at 10 millimeters per hour to 25 mm per hour within the 600-km diameter of the typhoon.

Malano said Labuyo would enhance the southwest monsoon, bringing moderate to occasionally heavy rains to the rest of southern Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.

He warned residents of coastal areas under Signal Nos. 2 and 3 about storm surges, and advised sea transport operators, especially of fishing boats, not to allow their vessels to go out to the waters off the western and southern seaboards of southern Luzon and the Western Visayas due to big waves.

Change of direction

Weather forecaster Lori Loiz said Labuyo veered from its westward track on Saturday to head west-northwest on Sunday.

Loiz said Labuyo was considerably “behaved,” not showing any changes in speed since it intensified from a tropical depression and entered Philippine territory on Friday.

She said the typhoon was expected to move from Aurora through Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Benguet, Ifugao, Mountain Province and La Union before exiting the country between Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte on Tuesday morning.

The Department of Science and Technology released on its Twitter account a copy of Executive Order No. 66, or the guidelines for calling off classes.

Stranded at ports

In areas under Signal No, 1, preschool and kindergarten are closed. Under Signal No. 2, classes in elementary and high schools are called off.

Where Signal No. 3 is up, all schools, including colleges and universities, are closed.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that as of 3 p.m. Sunday, more than 7,500 people, 33 seagoing vessels, 228 rolling cargo vessels, and 12 motorboats were stranded at ports in the Bicol region, Southern Tagalog, Eastern Visayas and Central Visayas.

The council said 7,581 people jammed the ports after the Philippine Coast Guard stopped sailings due to strong winds and big waves.

In Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Aurora, Quezon), Vicente Tomazar, regional director for disaster risk reduction, said the authorities were prepared to respond to emergencies, including flash floods and landslides.

To disperse spilled diesel

Tomazar said officials hoped the rains would help disperse the remainder of the 500,000 liters of diesel fuel that spilled into Manila Bay waters off the town of Rosario in Cavite province on Thursday.

Aurora Gov. Gerardo Noveras said the province did not experience heavy rains and strong winds on Sunday, but residents of coastal villages had been alerted to the incoming typhoon and fishermen had been told not to put out to sea.

In Isabela province, officials managing the Magat Dam in Ramon town ordered the release of water from the reservoir to avoid flooding in low-lying areas during the typhoon.

Civil defense officials in the Cordillera region alerted all disaster agencies to the coming typhoon.

The skies were cloudy over the Cordilleras on Sunday, but all roads to and from the resort city of Baguio and in the rest of the region remained open to traffic.

Flood watch

In Pampanga province, disaster officials relayed the storm warnings to coastal villages.

Pampanga experiences flooding when water from 30 rivers drains to the Pampanga River from the Caraballo mountains before flowing out to Manila Bay.

In Bicol, disaster officials were watching rivers, which could top their banks due to incessant rains starting Saturday afternoon.

Flood forecasting stations in the towns of Bula, Camaligan, Calabanga, Sipocot and Bato, and Buhi Lake in Camarines Sur reported slowly rising water levels, Pagasa said.

The weather bureau also instructed authorities in Libon, Polangui, Oas and Ligao City in Albay to watch out for flooding.—With reports from Jeannette I. Andrade and Marlon Ramos in Manila; Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon; Villamor Visaya Jr. and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon; and AP



‘Labuyo’ leaves over 3,000 passengers stranded

33 Catanduanes fishermen missing

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