6 dead, 4 missing as ‘Mina’ hovers
Typhoon “Mina,” packing gusts of up to 200 kilometers per hour, continued to batter northern Luzon Saturday, triggering landslides that have killed at least five children and one man in Pangasinan and Baguio City, according to police and disaster response reports.
Four others were reported missing—two fishermen (one in Catanduanes, the other in La Union) and two farmers in Ilocos Sur—as Mina whipped the country’s eastern coast before hitting land near Gonzaga, Cagayan, at 6 a.m. Saturday.
Mina (international name Nanmadol) toppled trees and electric posts, cutting off electricity in Isabela, Ilocos Norte and Baguio City. Low-lying towns and riverside villages in Isabela and Pangasinan were flooded. A tornado hit Sarrat, Ilocos Norte.
Cagayan and the northernmost islands are still being pummeled as the typhoon is moving northward very slowly, according to weathermen.
On Saturday morning in Pangasinan, siblings Reajen Bautista, 6, and John Rey, 5, died when a landslide crushed their hut at the foot of a hill in Barangay (village) Rabon in San Fabian town, police said.
Chief Inspector Domingo Soriano, San Fabian police chief, said the children’s parents survived.
Soriano said the landslide occurred at the height of heavy rains at 1 a.m. The victims’ bodies were dug up two hours later.
In Baguio City, strong rains Saturday noon triggered a slide that toppled a section of the city dump in Barangay Irisan, killing at least three children, aged 10 to 15 years, and burying three houses near the facility, the Office of Civil Defense in the Cordillera said. The three fatalities have yet to be identified.
Digging for gold
Rescue workers, the OCD said, managed to save a still unspecified number of people belonging to eight families whose houses were swamped by piles of garbage that were washed up from the dump.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan said a man who was digging for gold in the outskirts of the city was killed by mud and rocks that cascaded from a hillside.
In Pangasinan, Avenix Arenas, spokesperson of the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council (PDRRMC), said flash floods were reported in the towns of Laoac, San Fabian, San Nicolas and Pozorrubio.
In Ilocos Norte, a tornado struck in Sarrat town early Saturday morning, uprooting trees and destroying at least seven houses and partially damaging a dozen others. No one, however, was reported hurt.
Another whirlwind churned through Barangay Cataban at 10 a.m., uprooting trees and blocking a road in the village.
In Baguio City, a huge tree in front of the city’s landmark cathedral fell, dragging down several electrical posts and triggering a power outage in the mountain city.
Rains also caused the city’s famed Burnham Lake to overflow, while the heavy downpour worsened the condition of Baguio roads, which had been dug up in preparation for repavement.
Signal No. 1
Despite the heavy rains and strong wind, the city was only under by typhoon signal No. 1. College students went to class because many local universities proceeded with scheduled examinations.
Kennon Road, the shortest route to the summer capital, was closed to traffic on Saturday. The Marcos Highway and Naguilian Road were open to all types of vehicles.
Mina’s rains triggered landslides that blocked roads in Ifugao; in Bokod town leading to the Ambuklao Dam; and in a section of the Halsema Highway leading to Mt. Province. In Aurora, landslides were reported along stretches of a national road in Barangay Dianed in Dipaculao town but these remained passable.
Typhoon Mina slightly weakened Saturday afternoon hours after making landfall in Cagayan but remained a threat to the northern tip of Luzon.
By 4 p.m. Saturday, Mina had weakened slightly, with winds of 165 kph and gustiness of 200 kph. Its eye was spotted 50 km northeast of Aparri, Cagayan.
Storm signal No. 3 was raised over Cagayan, including the Babuyan and Calayan group of islands, Apayao and Batanes; No. 2 over Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra, Kalinga, Mt. Province, Ifugao and Isabela; and No. 1 over La Union, Benguet, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Aurora.
“It has slightly weakened as it continues to move northwestward,” forecaster Juanito Galang told a briefing. But he added: Tonight and tomorrow we will continue to experience stormy weather in extreme northern Luzon.
Weathermen were worried yesterday because Mina slowed its northward movement from 9 to 7 kph. Undersecretary Graciano Yumul of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) described Mina as “almost stationary” on Saturday morning, adding: “We’re not out of danger yet.”
“The rainfall is extremely heavy,” said Yumul, adding: “Let’s observe all necessary precautions against landslides and floods.”
“Manila to Aparri is open but it’s not safe to travel because of the possibility of landslides at Dalton Pass,” said Benito Ramos, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. “If travel is not that important, postpone it,” he added.
Mina is not expected to be out of the Philippine area of responsibility until Tuesday. Big waves or storm surges will prevail in coastal areas of northern Luzon, while rains and gustiness will continue in the rest of northern Luzon, and the western section of central and southern Luzon, Pagasa said.
President Aquino has ordered the Department of Social Welfare and Development to “pre-position” some P21 million in cash and relief provisions for residents displaced by Mina in Luzon. Gabriel Cardinoza, Vincent Cabreza, Cristina Arzadon and Villamor Visaya Jr., Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Tonette Orejas and Armand Galang, Inquirer Central Luzon; with TJ Burgonio in Manila and wire reports
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