Typhoon “Rosita” (international name: Yutu) slammed into the Philippines Tuesday with fierce winds that sheared off roofs and snapped trees in half and rendered roads and bridges impassable after thousands were evacuated ahead of the powerful storm’s arrival.
Cutting a path just south of last month’s Typhoon “Ompong” (Mangkhut), which killed dozens, the new storm tore across the Philippines’ most populous island and dumped heavy rains along the way.
Search crews were just beginning to assess the damage wrought by Rosita, which made landfall early Tuesday with sustained winds of 150 kilometers per hour and gusts up to 210 kph.
READ: 'Rosita' barrels toward North Luzon
Authorities said they were probing reports of one person missing after a boat capsized as the storm was barreling toward the disaster-prone nation.
“We see some branches on the roads and so on, but it is the flooding that is destroying houses here,” International Federation of the Red Cross spokeswoman Caroline Haga said from Nueva Vizcaya province.
“People are needing to be rescued.”
Nearly 10,000 people fled their homes ahead of Rosita’s arrival because they live in low-lying areas susceptible to flooding and rivers tend to overflow their banks.
The high winds flattened flimsy homes, tore the roofs off others and downed power poles as well as trees.
Disaster officials said the storm was less powerful than “Ompong,” which struck six weeks ago and left more than 100 dead. Most of the fatalities were due to a deadly landslide in the mining area of Itogon.
A month of heavy monsoon rains had left mountainous areas in the northern Philippines primed for landslides, which were unleashed by the Ompong’s torrential downpours.
Authorities near last month’s deadly landslide evacuated at least 1,000 people from the Itogon area as Rosita approached.
The Cagayan Valley Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that 17 municipalities in Cagayan and 23 towns in Isabela and the entire Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya were severely affected by the typhoon as it made landfall in the hinterlands of Dinapigue at about 4 am Tuesday.
The Camp Aguinaldo-based disaster state agency has not reported any casualties except for two missing persons in Aglipay, Quirino due to drowning and Perez, Quezon province.
At least seven bridges in Sto. Tomas, Baculod, Cansan and Casibaran and Cabisera in Ilagan, Isabela and in Tawi and Busag, Cagayan and Daang-Maharlika in Diado, Nueva Vizcaya remained impassable to all types of vehicles due to swollen rivers.
Rosita was expected to make landfall in Palanan, Isabela, but changed course as it approached land, hitting Dinapigue town near the Isabela-Aurora provincial borders.
Rosita was moving fast westward towards Ifugao, Benguet and La Union provinces. The weather bureau expects it to exit the country’s area of responsibility by 11 a.m. Wednesday.
At 4 pm Tuesday, the eye of the typhoon was located at 125 kilometers northwest of Dagupan City, Pangasinan.
Packing maximum sustained winds of 125 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 190 kph, it was moving west northwest at 25 kph..
National Food Authority OIC Administrator Tomas R. Escarez assured the public that the food agency has enough rice stocks in its warehouses nationwide, particularly in Northern and Central Luzon where Rosita hit.
NFA local offices in these areas are on alert status and are closely coordinating with relief agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Regional and Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, local government units and the Philippine Red Cross for their rice requirements.
An average of 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people and leaving millions in near-perpetual poverty.
The Philippines’ deadliest storm on record is Super Typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan), which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing across the central Philippines in November 2013. With AFP
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