‘Labuyo’ stings N. Luzon; 3 dead, 54 missingthe Inquirer Bureaus
Typhoon “Labuyo” plowed northeastern Luzon and the Cordillera from Aurora province early Monday, triggering floods and landslides while toppling trees and power lines.
At least three persons were reported dead while 54 others, mostly fishermen, were missing as Labuyo (international name: Utor) swept across coastal and mountain regions with wind gusts of 200 kilometers per hour. President Aquino had earlier directed civil defense officials to aim for a zero-casualty rate from the typhoon.
“An increase in the number of casualties is still possible, but we hope that this is already the final list of casualties,” Undersecretary Eduardo del Rosario, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), said in a press conference.
Jomar Salicong, 22, a construction worker, was buried in mud as he cleared a canal in Tuba, Benguet, at 8:30 a.m. He died at Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center at about 11 a.m., said Rafael Valencia, chief of the facility’s 911 On-Call.
Salicong was part of a work crew in Mt. Kabuyao in Tuba, said Senior Supt. Rodolfo Azurin, provincial police director.
In Surigao City, two persons died when their banca sank after strong waves destroyed its outrigger off the coastal village of Buenavista on Saturday night. They were on their way home to the village of Cagniog.
The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) identified them as Dolores Montero, 68 and Erica Montero Sim, 8.
Weathermen said the typhoon weakened after making landfall in Casiguran town in Aurora province around 3 a.m. and slammed into the Sierra Madre mountains. It exited through La Union province in the afternoon on its way to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and would be leaving the Philippine area of responsibility Tuesday morning, they said.
In Pangasinan, 30 fishermen from the western Pangasinan towns of Infanta and Bolinao have been reported missing, police said. Nineteen were from Infanta while the rest came from Bolinao.
Rescuers were still looking for at least 17 fishermen from Camarines Norte and six others from Catanduanes, said Bernardo Rafael Alejandro, regional director of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and head of the Bicol Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, in Legazpi City.
A total of 75 fishermen in the two provinces were reported missing late Sunday, but 52 had already returned home safe, he said.
Del Rosario said Aurora province was the hardest hit area, being the first province to be struck by the typhoon from the eastern seaboard.
Mayor Victorio Briones of Dilasag, the northernmost town of Aurora, traveled 30 kilometers of flooded and landslide-hit roads to reach Dinapigue town in neighboring Isabela province to report that 90 percent of crops in his place were damaged.
A telecommunications tower in Dinapigue has been spared by the strong winds and heavy rains, Aurora Gov. Gerardo Noveras said.
The road to Casiguran was impassable due to floods and landslides, he said.
The Aurora Electric Cooperative has restored electricity in the capital of Baler and two nearby towns at 12:45 p.m., Noveras said. A province-wide blackout began at 2:20 a.m. on Monday as rains and winds toppled electric posts.
“We have P5 million left from the calamity fund and we have 500 packs of relief goods ready,” he said. Rains have eased in Aurora at past 1 p.m., he said.
In Dipaculao, 73 houses were damaged while five were destroyed by heavy rains and strong winds.
At least 131 families have evacuated to town halls or barangay (village) centers in Casiguran, Dilasag, Dingalan, Dinalungan and Dipaculao.
The Maria national highway in Aurora is not passable due to fallen trees.
In Nueva Vizcaya, residents recounted their rude awakening when Labuyo slammed into the province at dawn with howling winds and heavy rains that flooded many areas.
Hundreds of families, especially those in riverside communities, fled their houses and scrambled to safer grounds as water rose in the early morning. Many said they were uninformed and ill prepared.
In the farming village of Busilac in the capital of Bayombong, 16 families abandoned their huts on the banks of the Magat River when they sensed that the water was rising higher and faster than before.
“They have only a few pairs of clothing, that’s all. Their houses, belongings, farm animals and their crops are all gone, swallowed by the river,” said village councilwoman Salvacion Orpiano, 58.
The PDRRMC met on Monday as Labuyo was pounding the place. “All the council members have put their respective sectors into action. Rescue teams are already on their way as we are getting many distress calls,” said Evaliza Agamata, council action officer.
Landslides, overflowing rivers and flooding have caused the closure of main roads, reported Senior Supt. Valfrie Tabian, provincial police director.
About 300 people in Quezon town and 600 in Dupax del Norte town were taken to evacuation centers, PDRRMC reports said.
In Isabela province, flooding had isolated four villages in two towns, although the impact was small compared to previous storms, said Isabela Gov. Faustino Dy III.
Relief workers rescued families in the villages of Salay, Quimalabasa and Masaya Sur in San Agustin town, and in Barangay Linomot in Jones town.
“We are glad that the typhoon did not strike us directly,” Dy said.
Police said Benny Labio, 40, was declared missing after her hut on the bank of the Cagayan River in Barangay Masaya Sur in San Agustin town was swept away by raging waters, Supt. Manuel Bringas, Isabela police operations chief, said.
In the coastal town of Dinapigue, at least 67 families (260 people) were evacuated to a government building.
The Philippine Information Agency in the Cordillera, quoting Chief Insp. Fernando Botangen of the Itogon police, reported that a jeepney was buried by a landslide in Itogon town at 8 a.m., but its driver and nine passengers managed to get out of the vehicle.
Heavy rains in Baguio raised the waters in City Camp Lagoon by as much as 4 meters. At least 52 families living there were evacuated, but many returned when the water subsided in the afternoon.
Azurin said relief workers evacuated 48 families (208 people) in the landslide-prone section of Tublay town to Pontino Elementary School in Barangay Mamuyod at 1:45 p.m.
Benguet Vice Gov. Nestor Dangwa said power to the towns of Bakun and Kibungan were cut at 10 a.m. Sections of Baguio also suffered power outages but service was restored in the afternoon.
Power outages were also reported in the Cordillera provinces of Mountain Province, Apayao, Kalinga and Ifugao.
The OCD in the Cordillera said mobile telephone services to Ifugao had been down since 8 a.m.
Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, Cordillera police director, said his office received reports of landslides in the Ifugao towns of Hungduan and Lamut, although no details were available at press time.
Senior Insp. Ronnie Maramba, police chief of Infanta town in Pangasinan province, said the missing fishermen left the fishing village of Cato on Aug. 5 and 8 aboard two boats to fish in the West Philippine Sea. They left as Labuyo was about to enter the Philippines last week.
“They were supposed to have returned to the shore in six to seven days,” Maramba told the Inquirer in a phone interview.
Maramba said the fishermen on the boat marked “Bon-Bon” were captain Larry Evangelista and his crew, Geronimo Igang, John Malicdem, Oscar de la Cruz, Reynaldo Corpuz, Pablito Evangelista, Arren Lauren and two others who were known by their nicknames, Pedro and Bong. Bon-Bon left Infanta on Aug. 5.
Those on the boat marked “Super Boy” that left the town on Aug. 8 were captain Ramil Rosal and his crew, Ricardo Etac, Iguan Bulig, Balong Nical, Narding Nical, Daniel Maloon, Andy Lebios, Efipanio Rosal, Dodong Rosal and Joseph Aripin.
In Bolinao, town administrator Fred Castelo said the six fishermen from his town left on Aug. 8.
“There was still no sign of a typhoon then. But they may have encountered rough seas because of Labuyo on their way back,” Castelo said.
He said the missing fishermen were Jose Rolly Bagor, Tito Dagun, Gerry Barrientos, Rosendo Cas, Rolly Boy Maratas and Manding Carranza.
Avenix Arenas, Pangasinan PDRRMC spokesperson, said five more fishermen from Bolinao had been reported missing, but she could not provide their names.
In Zambales, 111 families left their villages of Biay, Lomboy, Malabago, Sabang, Tabalong and Tubo North in Sta. Cruz town to escape rising floodwaters.
Floods were reported in the towns of Sta. Cruz, Candelaria, Masinloc and Palauig, prompting relief workers, policemen and soldiers to evacuate residents, said Maria Elizabeth Ebdane, Red Cross provincial administrator.
Rescue workers said 15 villages were hit hardest when raging waters filled with reddish mud were discharged from the denuded mountains of Sta. Cruz town.
In Candelaria town, floodwaters were waist-deep in the villages of Uacon, Lawis, Binabalian and Taposo. Authorities reported the swelling of Uacon Lake due to strong rains.
In Masinloc town, the villages of Baloganon, Sto. Rosario, Taltal and San Lorenzo were also inundated. Motorists stopped driving through Barangay San Lorenzo in that town early Monday because flooding had affected portions of the Olongapo-Zambales-Pangasinan Highway.
The rains were heavy but not enough to cause authorities to open the gates of four dams in Central Luzon on Monday morning.
Water level at the Angat Dam in Bulacan rose to 190.24 meters above sea level (masl) while that in Pantabangan in Nueva Ecija increased to 184.59 masl, a bit far from the spilling levels of 210 and 221 masl, respectively. Officials of the National Irrigation Administration ordered the release of water in the smaller Ipo and Bustos dams at 1:40 p.m. after water there rose to near spilling levels of 101 masl and 17.7 masl, respectively.
Melchito Castro, OCD director in the Ilocos region, said water level at the San Roque Dam in San Manuel, Pangasinan, was recorded at 240.97 masl at 10 a.m., still below its spilling level of 280 masl.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development in the region has prepared 2,000 food packs in La Union, 100 packs in Pangasinan, 500 packs in Ilocos Sur and 1,000 packs in Ilocos Norte.
Castro said residents in the coastal villages of Dammay and Oribi in Santa, Ilocos Sur, were being prepared for preemptive evacuation due to storm surges.
Rockslides blocked roads in Benguet and in upland communities of the Cordillera.
Azurin said falling boulders prompted the Department of Public Works and Highways to close Kennon Road. Marcos Highway, the other route to Baguio, remains open although there are sections that could be accessed only using one lane, due to landslides, he said.
The road leading to Mt. Sto. Tomas in Tuba was closed to traffic. The Kilometer 5 section of Asin Road was also closed.
Sections of roads leading to Benguet towns and to neighboring Cordillera provinces like Mountain Province were also blocked by landslides, Azurin said, among them the Kilometer 34 section of Halsema Highway, aguio-Nueva Vizcaya road, Bokod-Kabayan road and Acop-Kapangan-Kibungan road.
Also closed were the road connecting the towns of Kabayan, Buguias, Abatan and Kabayan in Benguet and Tinoc in Ifugao; the Gurrel-Bokod-Kabayan-Buguias road that connects to the Tinoc-Kabayan road; and the Sinipsip-Ampusungan road, which is used by vegetable farmers in Bakun and Kibungan towns, according to the Benguet police.
The OCD said only one lane of the Lagawe-Lamut road was passable in Ifugao. Landslides had closed access to the Kiangan–Tinoc–Buguias road and the Hungduan provincial road.
Labuyo was expected to leave the Philippine area of responsibility by Tuesday morning, Jori Loiz, forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said in a press briefing.
Loiz explained that the typhoon generally maintained its speed of 19 kph and its west-northwesterly direction, slightly accelerating at 22 kph as it pummeled Aurora because of the reach of a high-pressure area.
According to Pagasa’s observed accumulated rainfall in the last 24 hours, Labuyo dumped the most rain in the cities of Dagupan, Cabanatuan and Baguio, as well as in Iba town in Zambales.
Public Storm Signal No. 3 remained in effect over Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Ilocos Sur, Benguet, La Union and Pangasinan.
Signal No. 2 was up over Isabela, Aurora, southern Cagayan, Kalinga, Abra, the southern part of Ilocos Norte, Zambales, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija.
Signal No. 1 was hoisted over Metro Manila and the provinces of Apayao, Pampanga, Bulacan, Bataan and Rizal, the northern part of Quezon, including Polillo Island, the rest of Cagayan and Ilocos Norte, as well as the Babuyan and Calayan group of islands.—Reports from Tonette Orejas, Anselmo Roque, Cesar Villa, Carmela Reyes-Estrope and Armand Galang, Inquirer Central Luzon; Melvin Gascon, Villamor Visaya Jr., Gabriel Cardinoza, Yolanda Sotelo, Frank Cimatu, Vincent Cabreza, Cristina Arzadon and Kimberlie Quitasol, Inquirer Northern Luzon; Danilo Adorador III, Inquirer Mindanao; Mar S. Arguelles, Inquirer Southern Luzon; and Nikko Dizon and Jeannette I. Andrade, in Manila