‘Tisoy’ forces mass evacuations in Bicol
Some local governments in the Bicol region have begun evacuating thousands of people, officials said on Sunday, as a powerful typhoon rumbling in from the Pacific forced Southeast Asian Games organizers to cancel or reschedule some events.
Forecasters expected Typhoon “Tisoy” (international name: Kammuri) to make landfall on Monday evening or Tuesday morning, packing gusts of 170 kilometers per hour and maximum sustained winds of 140 kph.
The weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said the 24 hours between Monday and Tuesday morning were expected to be the “critical day” when southern and central Luzon, Metro Manila and parts of the Visayas would be battered by strong wind and rain from the typhoon.
As of Sunday afternoon, Tisoy was 595 km east of Virac, Catanduanes province, but its center was expected to be just 190 km east of Virac by Monday afternoon.
Outdoor events affected
By Tuesday afternoon, the typhoon’s center would be in the vicinity of Tayabas, Quezon, Pagasa said.
Tisoy entered Philippine territory on Saturday evening, shortly before President Duterte and boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao launched the Games with a colorful opening ceremony.
This year’s Games in Clark, Manila and Subic, which run through to Dec. 11, are already particularly complex with a record 56 sports across dozens of venues that are in some cases hours apart by car.
Outdoor events in Subic — on the west coast of Luzon — were the first to be affected by the typhoon.
“The windsurfing has been canceled until we have a more accurate picture of the weather,” Ramon Agregado, the organizing committee’s head of the Subic cluster of venues, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The women’s triathlon event was brought forward to Sunday, Agregado said, “so we could take advantage of the good weather.”
Duathlon events scheduled for Tuesday will now take place on Monday.
Agregado said venues would not be changed, but in the event of bad weather, the equipment would be taken down and put back together once the events were rescheduled.
Pagasa said the eye of Tisoy would be over the West Philippine Sea by Wednesday afternoon, when the typhoon would start to weaken.
It will be outside Philippine territory by Friday afternoon.
“If there’s good news, it’s that it’s moving quickly,” Pagasa weather specialist Aldczar Aurelio said. “But we still expect strong rain and wind.”
Incessant heavy to intense rain is expected in Bicol between Monday and Tuesday, while occasional to frequent heavy rain is expected in Samar and Biliran, and moderate to occasional heavy rain in Romblon, Marinduque and Quezon.
As of Sunday evening, Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal No. 2 —indicating winds of 61 km to 120 kph — was up in Southern Quezon, Masbate including Ticao and Burias islands, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Albay, Sorsogon, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, and Biliran.
Signal No. 1 was up in Southern Isabela, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Benguet, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan, Zambales, Bataan, Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Batangas, rest of Quezon including Polillo Islands, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Calamian Islands, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Iloilo, Guimaras, northern portion of Negros Occidental, Northern Cebu, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Dinagat Islands, and Siargao Island.
Some local governments in Bicol urged people to begin leaving their homes on Saturday night.
By Sunday afternoon, thousands of people were in evacuation centers, mostly in schools and gymnasiums in Camarines Norte, the disaster management office of the province said.
Most of them live in coastal areas and low-lying places where flash floods and landslides are possible due to heavy rain that will be brought by the typhoon.
In the island province of Catanduanes, 119 people living in coastal areas in Pandan town had been moved to shelters, said Noel Garcera Jr., the municipal disaster office chief.
Gener Torzar, municipal disaster office chief in Caramoran, Catanduanes, said 50 people were evacuated in the storm surge-prone town.
In Masbate, also an island province, 185 people living in Mandaon town were evacuated on Sunday, the provincial disaster office said.
In Albay, thousands of people living in villages on the slopes of Mt. Mayon and coastal areas of the province were evacuated on Sunday as Tisoy headed toward the region.
Dempsey Alcala, chief of the disaster council of Malinao town, said 58,000 people from 29 villages prone to flooding, storm surge and landslides had been moved to shelters.
In Guinobatan town, Mayor Gemma Ongjoco ordered the evacuation of 4,500 people living in the villages of Maninila, Tandarora, Muladbucad Grande, Agpay and Malabnig—all located on the slopes of Mayon.
Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon called off school for Monday and Tuesday in anticipation of heavy rain. In Catanduanes, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, schools will be closed only on Monday.
Thousands of travelers and vessels were stranded at different ports in Bicol on Sunday as Tisoy approached from the sea.
Lt.(j.g.) Excelsior Abenoja, Coast Guard operations officer in Bicol, said there were 1,640 travelers stranded in Matnog, 109 at Pilar in Sorsogon province, 140 in Pio Duran and 47 in Tabaco City.
In addition, 521 cargo trucks, 18 fishing vessels and a motor boat had been sitting at the ports since the Coast Guard canceled all sailings late on Saturday. —REPORTS FROM MATTHEW REYSIO-CRUZ, MA. APRIL MIER, REY ANTHONY OSTRIA, MICHAEL JAUCIAN, MADONNA T. VIROLA, SUZENE CAJEGAS AND AFP
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