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Monster storm drubs PH

Yolanda exits, leaving swath of destruction

SUPER Typhoon Yolanda, one of the strongest typhoons to hit the planet which weather experts described as the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, swept through the archipelago at a frightening speed, leaving a swath of destruction in its wake.

‘Yolanda’s’ fury. Top photos show residents (right) standing along a sea wall as high waves pound them as Typhoon “Yolanda” hit Legaspi on Friday, while a resident runs past an uprooted tree in Cebu City. AFP
Although it was expected to leave the Philippines at 10 a.m. Saturday, its strong winds killed at least three people, injured three more, tore roofs of off buildings, swept away shanties and triggered giant waves in coastal towns.

It also made five landfalls since it entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Thursday.

Packing maximum sustained winds of 215 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 250 kph, Yolanda made its fifth landfall at 12 noon on Friday, barely two hours after it hit land in Bantayan Island in Cebu at 10:40 a.m.

Yolanda made its first landfall at dawn, 4:40 a.m, in Eastern Samar, then moved to Tolosa, Leyte at 7 a.m., and hit land again in Daanbantayan town in Cebu at 9:40 a.m.

Dr. Jeff Masters of the wunderground.com weather website posted that Yolanda was the strongest storm to make landfall and the fourth strongest in the world.

“Haiyan (Yolanda) had winds of 190 -195 mph at landfall, making it the strongest tropical cyclone on record to make landfall in world history,” he said.

Citing data from the United States-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Masters, who co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995, said Yolanda’s average strength of 195 mph (314 kph) at landfall beat the record set in 1969 by hurricane “Camille,” which carried 190 mph (306 kph) winds when it made landfall in Mississippi.

“If it maintains its strength, there has never been a storm this strong making landfall everywhere in the world,” Masters added.

Masters said the strongest tropical cyclone on record was Super Typhoon Nancy in 1961 with top winds of 215 mph, but since 1969, only three storms have been as powerful as Haiyan (Yolanda). They were Super Typhoon Tip in 1979 in the Pacific and Atlantic hurricanes Camille in 1969 and Allen in 1980.

Storm signal no. 4 has been raised over the extreme of Northern Palawan, Calamian Group of Island, Southern Occidental Mindoro, Southern Oriental Mindoro, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Iloilo and Guimaras.

The rest of Mindoro provinces, Romblon, rest of northern Palawan and Puerto Princesa City were placed under storm signal no. 3, while Signal no. 2 remained hoisted over Lubang Islands, Batangas, Marinduque, the rest of Palawan, Burias Island, Masbate, Ticao Island, Negros provinces, Cebu, Biliran Island and Siargao.

Meanwhile, Metro Manila, Bataan, Cavite, Rizal, Laguna, Quezon, Camarines provinces, Albay, Sorsogon, Samar provinces, Leyte provinces, Bohol, Siquijor, Camiguin, Surigao del Norte and Dinagat province had warning signal nol. 1.

The typhoon also carries with it 10 to 30 millimeters amount of rainfall per hour, or heavy to intense, over a 400-km diameter.

As of 1 p.m. Friday, the eye of Yolanda was tracked at 115 kms west of Roxas City or over the western coast of Antique. The typhoon was forecast to move west northwest at 40 kph.

As this developed, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council confirmed that three people had been killed, three were injured, and 15 crewmen were rescued at the height of Yolanda’s fury.

The NDRMMC identified the fatalities as Enex Deinla, who was electrocuted in Surigao del Sur; Reggie Francisco Bucoy, of Masbate and Jimmy Cabilon of Zamboanga City.

NDRRMC Executive Director Eduardo Del Rosario said in a media briefing that the entire eastern Samar is without power and communication lines were down.

“Eastern Samar was badly hit, but we still don’t know the actual damage, Del Rosario said. ‘We’re hoping that the damage is not that worse.”

At least 145, 641 families or 718,208 persons from 29 provinces, 31 cities and 170 municipalities were directly affected by the typhoon.

Del Rosario that aside from Eastern Samar, also without power are the provinces of Sorsogon, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Masbate, Albay, Antique, Siargao, Leyte, Iloilo, Bantayan and Tablas in Cebu, Camotes Island and Dinagat.

In the Caraga Region, 6,522 families or about 18,234 individuals were evacuated in different towns within five provinces of the region as of 9:45 a.m., according to the Caraga Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.

Butuan City alone has evacuated 435 individuals or about 543 families as part of the city government’s pre-emptive evacuation since the evening of Nov. 7

In Dinagat Islands, at least 1,187 families were evacuated to safer place and to different evacuation centers in the island province.

In Surigao del Norte, 3,345 families have been evacuated through pre-emptive evacuation measures in all twenty towns of the province, while in Agusan del Norte, some 357 families were pre-emptively evacuated in the ten towns of the province and the City of Cabadbaran.

Meanwhile, at least 67 cell sites of the Smart, Sun and Globe communications were also damaged, as towers were toppled and the antennas were misaligned. The telecommunications service providers, however, promised to restore their signals today.

In Cebu, Governor Hilario Davide III said that several residents were reported missing, while hundreds of infrastructure and houses were damaged by strong winds.

Also, some 3,093 passengers in different ports in Southern Tagalog, Bicol and Visayas were stranded after 231 passenger and cargo ships were prevented from sailing because of rough seas and huge waves.

In Bicol, 1,591 passengers were affected while 783 were stranded in Catbalugan in Eastern Visayas, according to Cdr. Armando Balilo, Coast Guard chief information officer.

“We also prevented ships here in Metro Manila. We’re also hoping that no fishermen will be affected,” he said.

Balilo said that aside from passengers, also stranded were 423 rolling cargoes and 63 motor boats.

Coast Guard commandant Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena directed all station and detachment commanders in areas affected by the typhoon to prepare its rescue units and initiate pro-active measures to prevent or minimize loss of lives attributed to maritime and land based incidents that may be caused by the weather disturbance.

He said rescue units like disaster response and quick reaction teams composed of divers, paramedics, rescue swimmers and K-9 units should be on high level of readiness so it can immediately respond to emergencies.

Isorena also called on the agency’s auxiliary volunteers to actively involve their units and equipment during rescue operations as part of the regular Coast Guard personnel.

He added that the recently acquired 40 new rubber boats and 20 aluminum boats will be used and operated by the Coast Guard Special Operations Group for coastal patrol and in the conduct of search and rescue missions.

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare Department said that some 718,208 individuals or 145,641ilies affected by super typhoon “Yolanda” are now being sheltered in 581 evacuation centers in 29 provinces in seven regions of the country, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported Friday.

DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman said the affected persons were from Regions 4A, 4B, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.

She added that P30 million additional stand-by fund was released to these provinces as an augmentation of the relief distribution.

The typhoon has also plunged the entire Visayas grid into darkness, hours after the typhoon made landfall.

System operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines said that the High Voltage Direct Current transmission facility that allows that flow of electricity from Luzon to Visayas was blocked.

“There is no power flow from Luzon to Visayas,” National Grid spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza said.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, who hails from Leyte, described the power situation as “really bad.”

“We have to assess the situation first and then start the restoration. Communications are down right now so actions are on hold,” Petilla said.

As of 3pm, National Grid reported that all 69 kV lines in Samar and Leyte were affected by the storm while eight 138 kV transmission lines and two 230 kV transmission lines were affected.

All transmission lines in Bohol were also affected. With Joel E. Zurbano, Francisco Tuyay, AFP, PNA, Alena Mae Flores and Alvin Guazon

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