Alarm raised over destructive ‘Karen’
Typhoon “Karen” (international name: Sarika) left at least five people dead and forced hundreds to evacuate as the potentially most destructive storm to hit the country so far this year roared toward Luzon late Saturday, disaster officials said.
Packing sustained winds of up 130 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 180 kph, the typhoon also forced airlines to cancel dozens of domestic and international flights and stranded thousands of ferry passengers.
The typhoon headed toward Aurora province where it was forecast to make landfall before dawn Sunday. It passed Saturday north on the island province of Catanduanes, where two men were reported to have drowned.
One unidentified man, believed to be about 45 to 50 years old, was found dead in the coastal village of Pananaogan in Bato town, Catanduanes Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officer Jerry Beo told the Inquirer. The second fatality, he said, was 77-year-old Felicito Tesorero, who was found dead in Barangay Buenavista also in Bato after he tried to get his carabao from his flooded farm.
In Barangay Sogod in Tigbao town, Rene Magtangob, 39, went missing after crossing the swollen Inagasan Creek Friday night, Beo said.
In Binangonan, Rizal province, a landslide killed three people, including two children, late Thursday, said Maj. Virgilio Perez Jr., spokesperson for the military’s Southern Luzon Command, citing reports from Mayor Cecilio Ynares.
The report identified the victims as Arcile Latoja, 26,
Rex Adrian Latoja, 6, and Reynold Latoja, 3. It did not say whether the victims were related to each other. Luisito Oliveros, 38, was injured.
The typhoon is not the most powerful to hit the country this year, but it could cause the most damage as it will cross heavily populated areas just north of Manila, said weather forecaster Benison Estareja.
“We can see from the radar that the storm is very destructive. It can destroy wooden houses, it can topple trees. It can possibly rip off roofs,” Estareja said. “This could so far be the most damaging typhoon this year.”
The weather division chief of the weather bureau, Esperanza Cayanan, said the worst part of the storm will be experienced in the affected areas late Saturday and early Sunday.
“This storm is strong. It will cross over land and mountains, so landslides (are very possible),” Cayanan said, advising the public to avoid travel.
Quoting a Philippine Coast Guard report, Bernardo Rafael Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) 5 director, said at least 2,080 passengers were stranded along with 345 trucks, buses and cars, 26 ships and 14 motorized bancas at ports in Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes.
Coast Guard spokesperson Cmdr. Armand Balilo said a notice to mariners directed vessels, especially those in Manila Bay, to take shelter.
Close to 190 families or about 910 people have been evacuated from several towns in Catanduanes.
In Camarines Sur, 75 families, or about 330 people, were moved to temporary shelters
in the towns of Bato and Pasacao due to threats of floods and storm surges. A dozen families from two towns in nearby Camarines Norte also were evacuated, according to an OCD 5 report.
The typhoon has left more than 246,000 residents of Catanduanes without electricity and telephone service, civil defense spokesperson Rachel Miranda.
Provincial disaster authorities also reported landslides
in three villages in San Andres town and in a village in Gigmoto municipality. Parts of the
main highway in Virac, the provincial capital, remained flooded late Saturday, they said.
Airlines canceled at least 43 domestic flights on Saturday and 144 domestic and international flights scheduled for
On Saturday, Cebu Pacific grounded flights between Manila and Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Davao, Bacolod, Cebu, Legazpi, Tuguegarao and Cauayan. Cebu Pacific-Tiger Airways canceled flights between Manila and Naga, Caticlan, Cebu and Iloilo.
Philippine Airlines and PAL Express grounded flights between Manila and Legazpi, Naga, Calbayog, Catarman, Masbate and Basco.
The 144 flights canceled on Sunday include Cebu Pacific flights between Manila and Hong Kong, Bangkok, Guam, Narita and Singapore, as well as flights between Clark and Hong Kong and Singapore.
Provinces forecast to be in the path of the typhoon also braced for its onslaught.
Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino III told residents living near danger zones to leave their homes by Saturday night. In Nueva Ecija, the Cabanatuan City government canceled all classes on Monday. Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado urged operators of Angat Dam to start the gradual release
of water to avoid sudden discharges before the typhoon inundates the province. —REPORTS FROM FERNAN GIANAN, MAR S. ARGUELLES, REY ANTHONY OSTRIA, DELFIN T. MALLARI, JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE, JAYMEE T. GAMIL AND