‘Karen’ leaves 3 dead
Typhoon “Karen” smashed across Central Luzon on Sunday, triggering floods and landslides, stranding thousands of commuters and leaving at least three people dead and three others missing, authorities said.
Karen (international name: Sarika) was still packing peak winds of 130 kilometers per hour and gusts of 220 kph when it blew out of Pangasinan into the South China Sea at midday, prompting weathermen to lower storm warnings.
The typhoon blew into Aurora province early Sunday and barreled fast through heavily populated agricultural provinces, including areas prone to flooding and landslides.
A separate storm has been spotted far out in the Pacific and may strengthen as it heads toward the Philippines this week, according to the weather bureau.
More than 12,000 people fled their homes in Karen’s path and were taken in more than 100 emergency shelters, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said.
Eleven people were rescued after a boat capsized off the eastern island of Samar on Friday, while about 1,000 boats and 6,500 passengers were stranded at ports as the coast guard barred smaller vessels from putting to sea.
The disaster agency said 290 commercial flights, including 63 to international destinations, were canceled due to bad weather.
Most of the people evacuated were in Aurora. Mayor Nelianto Bihasa of Baler said howling wind ripped tin roofs off many houses and knocked down trees and electric posts, causing power outages and blocking access roads to some villages. Coastal residents were warned early to move to safer areas and there have been no immediate reports of casualties other than two injured residents.
In Virac, Catanduanes province, authorities said Rene Magtangob, 38, of Barangay Tibgao, drowned while crossing the swollen Inagasan Creek.
The provincial health office reported two deaths at the height of the typhoon—Felicito Tesorero who died due to a heart attack when he went out to retrieve his carabao in Barangay Buenavista, Bato; and Rowena Torrepalma who succumbed to epilepsy.
Authorities have launched a search and rescue operation for three fishermen who had gone missing in Viga town. Zaldy De Jesus and Luis Tupig of Barangay Buenavista and Rene del Valle of Barangay Tambongon, Viga town, were reportedly drunk while crossing a creek.
After Karen left, evacuees started to head back to their homes in Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Catanduanes and Sorsogon provinces.
The Office of Civil Defense said at least 12 towns in Bicol were affected by flooding. Landslides hit San Andres and Gigmoto towns in Catanduanes and Irosin town in Sorsogon.
Total power outages were reported in the entire province of Catanduanes since Saturday, while brownouts affected 10 towns in Camarines Sur, three towns in Camarines Norte, two towns in Sorsogon and some areas in Albay.
A month’s worth of rain poured on Friday as the typhoon approached from the Pacific, swelling rivers and creeks and flooding low-lying farming villages, Catanduanes safety officer Gerry Beo said, adding that most towns in the island province of about 260,000 people have no electricity and spotty communications.
Floods affected Pangasinan, Pampanga and Isabela provinces when rains caused rivers to swell on Sunday. In Pampanga, floodwaters as high as one meter affected 13 villages in the towns of Macabebe and Masantol. In Pangasinan, flooding affected seven of the major thoroughfares of Dagupan City. —REPORTS FROM GABRIEL CARDINOZA, VILLAMOR VISAYA JR.,TONETTE OREJAS, VINCENT CABREZA, ARMAND GALANG, ANSELMO ROQUE, ALLAN MACATUNO, GREG REFRACCION, MAR S. ARGUELLES, REY ANTHONY OSTRIA, AND DELFIN T. MALLARI JR., WIRES
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.