Christmas Day exodus
LEGAZPI CITY—Officials plan to evacuate over 1 million people in the path of Typhoon “Nina” (international name: Nock-Ten) in at least one province in the Bicol region where it was expected to make landfall on Sunday, Christmas Day.
Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara said the mandatory evacuation of 207,774 families, or more than 1 million individuals, from villages prone to flooding, landslide, mud/lahar flow and storm surges would be completed early on Sunday. According to the provincial disaster office there were 1,616 such villages.
Partial data from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) showed there were about 59,790 families living in low-lying villages, 21,294 families in areas prone to landslides, 34,631 families in areas in the path of lahar flows from Mayon Volcano, and 29,087 families in coastal communities vulnerable to storm surges.
Packing maximum winds of 175 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 215 kph, Nina was barreling toward Bicol around 4 p.m. on Saturday. It was located about 390 kilometers east of Catanduanes, where it was forecast to make landfall on Sunday afternoon or evening. It was expected to dump moderate to heavy rains over an area 500 km in diameter.
“We issued an advisory to local government units this morning to conduct preemptive evacuations,” Rachel Miranda, spokesperson for the civil defense office in the Bicol region told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Saturday.
Cedric Daep, civil defense chief for Albay, told AFP at least 400,000 people in Bicol region needed to be evacuated.
“Our evacuation centers will not be able to accommodate all of them,” he said. Others were being asked to stay with relatives or friends.
Bichara directed the Department of Education to open school campuses for use as emergency shelters.
Camarines Sur Gov. Miguel “Migz” Luis Villafuerte ordered an evacuation since Friday of families living in danger zones—
along the coasts and riverbanks, flood-prone and landslide-prone communities—and in houses made of light materials.
“We are targeting zero casualty this time,” Villafuerte told mayors.
By Saturday noon, Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 1 had been hoisted over southern Quezon, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate including Ticao and Burias Island, and northern Samar, Samar and eastern Samar.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) also expected to raise storm Signal No. 1 over northern Quezon including Polillo Island, Marinduque and Romblon.
Nina is forecast to cross the Bicol region on Sunday night, and by Monday, “it will already be felt in Calabarzon, central Luzon, Metro Manila and parts of Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan),” said Pagasa forecaster Benison Estareja.
He said Nina could weaken once it makes landfall. “But its impact will still be strong once it gets to southern Luzon and Metro Manila,” he said.
Metro Manila, Bicol, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, Zambales, Marinduque, Oriental and Occidental Mindoro and Northern Samar should expect stormy weather on Sunday and Monday.
The Public Safety Department of Calapan City, capital of Oriental Mindoro, has raised a red alert even if it will not be directly hit by the typhoon, said disaster response coordinator Nelson Aboboto.
Pagasa warned heavy rains may trigger flash floods and landslides in areas along Nina’s path, where strong winds could topple some structures and uproot trees. It also warned possible storm surges of up to 2 meters in coastal areas.
Estareja said sea travel in northern Luzon and the eastern seaboards of central Luzon, southern Luzon and Visayas would be dangerous due to the effects of both the surge of the northeast monsoon and the typhoon.
Thousands heading home for Christmas were stranded in Bicol ports and several flights to the region have been canceled on Saturday, according to Bernardo Rafael Alejandro, chair of the Bicol Regional Risk Reduction and Management.
He said more than 3,600 passengers were stranded, most of them at the Matnog and Pilar ports in Sorsogon province, and some in Pasacao in Camarines Sur, Masbate and Albay as of noon on Saturday, along with close to 400 trucks, buses and cars.
The Philippine Coast Guard in Bicol stopped vessels in major ports in the region from sailing after Pagasa raised storm warning Signal No. 1 over the area. —WITH REPORTS FROM MAR S. ARGUELLES, MADONNA T. VIROLA, JUAN ESCADOR JR., REY ANTHONY OSTRIA, FERNAN GIANAN, JAYMEE GAMIL, TARRA QUISMUNDO AND AFP
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