Sunday, May 28, 2017
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Tropical Storm ‘Bebeng’ strengthens as it nears Bicol

MANILA, Philippines—Residents of Bicol, eastern Visayas and northern Luzon should brace for floods and landslides brought by the rains of Tropical Storm “Bebeng” in the next two days, the weather bureau warned on Saturday.

As of 4 p.m. Saturday, the storm was spotted 220 kilometers east of Legazpi City and moving northwest at 13 kilometers per hour, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said.

Bebeng, which was upgraded to a storm from tropical depression category Saturday afternoon due to its increased strength, has maximum winds of 65 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 80 kph. Tropical depressions have maximum winds of 60 kph.

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Robert Sawi, Pagasa’s chief forecaster, said Bebeng could gain more strength as it approaches the eastern seaboard. “It could intensify further,” he said.

As Bebeng churned closer to land, Pagasa placed five provinces under storm signal no. 2. These are Northern Samar, Sorsogon, Albay, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes.

Storm signal no. 1 was declared over Masbate, Ticao Island, Burias Island Camarines Norte, Quezon, Polilio Island, Aurora, Marinduque, Eastern Samar and Western Samar, Pagasa said.

Sawi said the provinces in the path of Bebeng should prepare for floods and landslides. Residents should be ready to evacuate and those in coastal towns should stay farther inland due to storm surges, Pagasa said.

Fishermen in Southern Luzon and the Visayas were also warned not to venture out to sea.

Slow-moving typhoon

Sawi described Bebeng as a “slow-moving” typhoon and this meant it would hover inland longer.

“This is what we are worried about. The slower it is, the more rains there will be,” Sawi said.

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Bebeng is predicted to make landfall in Catanduanes on Sunday morning and move northwest inland.

By Monday morning, Bebeng is expected to dump rains on Isabela and Aurora. It is forecast to leave the country on Tuesday morning.

Several domestic flights were cancelled Sunday due to the bad weather.

The Manila International Airport Authority said the cancelled flights included those of Air Philippines, Cebu Pacific and Zest Air from Manila to Catarman and their return flights and Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines flights from Manila to Cotabato and vice versa.

Cebu Pacific flights to Naga City and back were also cancelled.

PAL flight PR 4888 bound for Incheon, South Korea, from the Mactan Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City was delayed due to the bad weather.

The storm has stranded passengers in Bicol and the Visayas, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Saturday.

PCG spokesperson Lt. Commander Algier Ricafrente said 1,424 persons were stranded at 10 ports as of Saturday morning due to rough seas brought about by Bebeng.

As of 9 a.m. Saturday, reports from PCG field units showed that there were 1,050 persons stranded in Sorsogon (784 in Matnog, 150 in Pilar and 116 in Bulan); 100 in Albay (25 in Tabaco, 10 in Victory and 65 in Pio Duran); 187 in Camarines Sur (52 in Pasacao and 135 in Sabang); 37 in San Andres, Catanduanes; and 50 in Danao, Cebu.

Ricafrente pointed out that vessels that are 1,000 gross tons or less are not allowed to sail, except to take shelter, when public storm signal no. 1 is raised over their point of origin, route, or port of destination.

Stranded passengers

In Cebu City, hundreds of passengers were stranded on Saturday after at least six vessels cancelled their trips due to bad weather.

Cebu Coast Guard station commander Rolando Punzalan said fast craft bound for Ormoc City and other parts of eastern Visayas returned to Cebu ports due to rough seas.

The MV Beautiful Star bound for Baybay City and the MV Lite Ferry bound for Ormoc cancelled their trips.

Four other vessels that cancelled their trips were LCT Mabuhay (from Carmen town, Cebu to Baybay City in Leyte); MV Melrivic 2 (Danao City to Isabel town in Leyte); MB Ave Maria 5 (Camotes Island to Mandaue City); and MB Destiny (Camotes to Baybay).

Bebeng is the second typhoon of the year.

“Amang,” the first storm of the year, formed off the coast of eastern Mindanao early last month, but dissipated before it could hit land.

Nathaniel Servando, Pagasa administrator, said it was rare for the Philippines to get a typhoon in the first week of May. With a report from Jhunnex Napallacan, Inquirer Visayas

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TAGS: Air Transport, Disasters (general), Emergency incidents, Flood, Road Transport, Safety of citizens, Warnings, Weather
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