Bicol takes a beating from ‘Nina’
Typhoon “Nina” roared over southern Luzon with slightly weaker but still fierce winds on Monday after battering the Bicol region on Christmas Day, leaving five people dead and destroying thousands of homes.
Nina, internationally known as Nock-ten, cut power to five provinces in Bicol at the height of Christmas celebrations, displaced tens of thousands of villagers and stranded thousands of holiday travelers.
A farmer died after being pinned by a fallen coconut tree in Quezon province and three other villagers, including a couple who were swept by strong current in Viga River, died in Albay province after Nina made landfall in Bato, Catanduanes province, at 6:30 p.m. on Christmas Day.
Disaster officials identified the farmer as Gregorio Reforma, 43, who died in Santa Rosa town, Quezon, and the drowned couple as Antonio Calingacion, 73, and Teresita Calingacion, 70, of Balinad village in Polangui, Albay.
The third villager was identified as Espelita Marilad, 57, who was pinned by a falling concrete wall inside her house in Balangibag village, also in Polangui.
A fisherman died and two others were injured when they stepped on live wires in Lopez, Quezon province.
The fisherman who died was identified as Christopher Sanchez, but authorities had not declared his death as typhoon-related.
With maximum winds of 185 kilometers per hour and gusts of 255 kph, Nina blew west-northwest, hopscotching over mountainous and island provinces, damaging homes, uprooting trees and knocking down power and communication lines.
The typhoon made a second landfall in Sagnay, Camarines Sur province, at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, and hit land for a third time in San Andres, Quezon province, at 2 a.m. on Monday.
From there, it made five more landfalls—in Torrijos, Marinduque province at 4:30 a.m.; Verde Island, Batangas province, at 9:15 a.m.; Tingloy Island, Batangas, at 10:10 a.m.; Calatagan, in the same province, at 11 a.m., and on Lubang Island, Occidental Mindoro province, at 1 p.m.
By the time Nina hit land for the eighth time on Lubang Island, it had weakened slightly and had sustained winds of up to 130 kph and gusts of 215 kph as it blew over the provinces of Batangas and Cavite on Monday morning, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said.
Metro Manila spared
Metro Manila, which had been forecast to be struck, received only light rain on Monday, but many residents stayed indoors as the typhoon lashed neighboring provinces.
Two cargo vessels sank off Batangas as the typhoon hit the province, the Philippine Coast Guard reported.
The MV Starlite Atlantic sank off Tingloy and the MV Shuttle Roro 5 sank off Mabini.
The Coast Guard said 14 people were rescued after the Starlite Atlantic sank. It said 25 crew members of the Shuttle Roro 5 were rescued.
Eight crew members of the Starlite Atlantic were missing, it said.
In a statement, Starlite Ferries Inc., the owner of the vessel, said 15 crew members were rescued while 19 were missing.
It said the vessel was not carrying passengers, but Senior Supt. Leopoldo Cabanag, Batangas police director, said a female passenger, Lyca Banaynal, died.
The Coast Guard, however, refused to confirm the report about Banaynal’s death.
Civil defense officials said 80 domestic and international flights had been canceled, and all sailings in storm-affected regions had been held, spoiling the holiday plans of thousands of people.
Nina was one of the strongest typhoons to hit the Philippines since Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) left more than 7,300 people dead or missing and displaced more than 5 million in Eastern Visayas in November 2013.
About 20 typhoons and storms hit the Philippines each year.
8th Christmas typhoon
Nina was the eighth Christmas typhoon to hit the Philippines in the past 65 years.
Officials in some provinces in Bicol said they found it difficult to convince people to abandon their Christmas celebrations and head for the shelters before Nina hit.
Some officials said they had to impose forced evacuations.
“Some residents just refused to leave their homes even when I warned them that you can face what amounts to a death penalty,” Cedric Daep, a top disaster-response official in Albay, said by phone.
Shopping malls and stores were ordered to close early on Christmas Day to encourage people to remain indoors, “but at the height of the typhoon, many cars were still being driven around and people were out walking,” Daep said.
“We warned them enough, but we just can’t control their mind,” he said.
Officials in Albay, where more than 150,000 villagers were displaced by the typhoon, declared a state of calamity on Christmas Day to allow faster disbursement of emergency funds.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda reported more than 15,800 houses either destroyed or damaged in Polangui town, with P213.6 million in damage to infrastructure and P99 million in damage to agriculture.
He said more than 6,800 houses were either destroyed or damaged in Libon town, which also suffered more than P300 million in damage to infrastructure and P128.7 million in damage to agriculture.
The provincial government of Catanduanes also declared a state of calamity as it reported 21 landslides and extensive damage to private and public property and infrastruture.
Military camps damaged
The Armed Forces of the Philippines reported severe damage to its camps and outposts in Bicol, Southern Tagalog, Eastern Visayas, Mimaropa, Central Luzon and Metro Manila.
Pagasa said Nina exited the Luzon landmass at around 3 p.m. on Monday and started blowing into the West Philippine Sea.
As of 5 p.m., the typhoon was located 75 km southwest of Subic, Olongapo City, heading north.
By early evening, only Lubang Island and western Batangas were under storm signal No. 2.
Southern Zambales, Bataan, the rest of Batangas, Cavite and the northern parts of Occidental and Oriental Mindoro remained under storm signal No. 1.
Nina was expected to weaken further but speed up as it blew into the sea, Pagasa said.
“The worst is over,” Pagasa forecaster Robert Badrina said. “For the areas Nina crossed, they can now start again after this deluge.” —REPORTS FROM JAYMEE T. GAMIL, TINA G. SANTOS, CYNTHIA D. BALANA, MARICAR CINCO, MAR S. ARGUELLES, MA. APRIL MIER, REY ANTHONY OSTRIA, MADONNA T. VIROLA, DELFIN T. MALLARI JR., FERNAN GIANAN; FRANCES MANGOSING, INQUIRER.NET; AP AND AFP
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