Tens of thousands of people were sheltering in evacuation centers as Typhoon “Tisoy” (international name: Kammuri) barreled towards the Philippines, threatening plans for the Southeast Asian Games events near Metro Manila.
Tisoy was expected to make landfall late Monday or early Tuesday in the east with intense rains and potent wind gusts of up to 185 kilometers per hour, forecasters said.
The storm is on track to then pass close to Metro Manila, which is home to some 13 million people and the site for many of the SEA Games events.
Nearly 70,000 people have already fled their homes in the Bicol region, which is where the typhoon is expected to strike first.
“We hope there won’t be any damage, but given its strength, we can’t avoid it,” Mark Timbal, spokesman for the national disaster agency, said.
“We have preemptively evacuated people in areas that are in the storm’s direct path.”
The weather bureau also warned of rain-induced landslides and possible storm surges of up to three meters (10 feet) which could hit coastal areas in the nation’s east.
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year, killing hundreds and putting people in disaster-prone areas in a state of constant poverty.
The country’s deadliest cyclone on record was Super Typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan), which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.
Kammuri is already snarling plans for the SEA Games, which opened Saturday for thousands of athletes from the region and is set to run through to Dec. 11 in and around Manila.
Windsurfing was halted as a precaution and triathlon events were held earlier than scheduled.
Organizers told reporters Monday that each sport is overseen by delegates and ultimately they would make the call on any possible cancellations or rescheduling.
Ramon Suzara, the chief operating officer of the organizing committee, said contingency plans were in place for bad weather, but the duration of the Games would not be extended.
“For example, basketball or volleyball, normally if there are typhoons, which has been done, the competition continues if necessary but without spectators,” he said.
The storm is the latest trouble for the Games, which saw a series of transport snafus and a rush of last-minute construction ahead of the opening.
This year’s Games in Clark, Manila, and Subic are already particularly complex, with a record 56 sports across dozens of venues that are in some cases hours apart by car.
Around 8,750 athletes and team officials are expected at this year’s 30th edition—the biggest ever—along with another 12,000 volunteers. Organizers hope more than 500 million viewers will tune in on TV by the end of the competition on Dec. 11.
The Philippines have made a strong start to the Games, rising to the top of the medal table with over 50 in total, ahead of Vietnam in second and Thailand in third.
The host nation added to their haul of gold medals on Monday with wins in downhill mountain biking and stick-wielding martial art arnis, while claiming a silver in the rescheduled men’s duathlon event in Subic.
A glitzy dancesport competition in Clark on Sunday saw the Philippines pick up 10 golds.
Tisoy intensified slightly while nearing landfall on Monday.
In Monday’s 5 p.m. bulletin, the weather bureau said the southern eyewall of Typhoon Tisoy is now bringing intense rainfall and violent winds over Northern Samar. The eyewall will also hit Sorsogon, Albay, Catanduanes and Camarines Sur in the next three hours.
The eye of the typhoon was located at 155 kilometers east of Juban, Sorsogon.
Packing maximum sustained winds of 155 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 190 kph, it was moving west at 15 kph.
Tropical cyclone wind Signal No. 3 remained in effect over Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Norte, Masbate, including Ticao and Burias Islands, Romblon and southern portion of Quezon (Perez, Alabat, Quezon, Atimonan, Padre Burgos, Agdangan, Plaridel, Unison, Pitogo, Gumaca, Pitogo, Lopez, Macalelon, General Luna, Calauag, Guinayangan, Tagkawayan, Buenavista, Mulanay, San Narciso, San Francisco and San Andres), Marinduque, Northern Samar, northern portion of Eastern Samar (Can-avid, Dolores, Maslog, Oras, Arteche, Jipapad San Policarpio) and northern portion of Samar (Catbalogan, Jiabong, Motiong, Paranas San Jose de Buan, San Jorge, Pagsanghan, Tarangnan, Sta. Margarita, Gandara, Matuguinao Calbayog, Tagapul-an, Almagro and Sto. Niño).
Signal No. 2 was hoisted over Metro Manila, Bulacan, Bataan, Tarlac, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, southern Aurora, Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, Rizal, the rest of Quezon, including Polillo Islands, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Calamian Islands, Zambales, the rest of Eastern Samar, the rest of Samar, Biliran, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Iloilo, northern portion of Negros Occidental, Northern Cebu, Leyte and Guimaras.
Signal No. 1 remained in effect in Southern Isabela, Mt. Province, Ifugao, Benguet, Nueva Vizcaya, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Quirino, rest of Aurora, rest of Negros Occidental, Metro Cebu, the rest of Leyte, Southern Leyte, Dinagat Islands, and Siargao Island.
A total of 5,558 passengers were stranded in various ports in the country due to Typhoon Tisoy, the Philippine Coast Guard said Monday.
PCG spokesperson, Capt. Armando Balilo, in an interview at the MMDA headquarters in Makati City, said the passengers were stranded as all maritime-based transport modes were suspended as a precautionary measure for the approaching typhoon.
“All ships, barges, and buses—for example, those going Mindoro through Batangas, Mindoro to Caticlan, as well as those going to Siargao, to Matnog, Sorsogon, to Leyte, and Samar, all those will not be allowed,” Balilo said in Filipino.
Based on a memorandum circular issued in 2013, no vessel will be allowed to sail when Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 1 or higher is hoisted within its point of origin, the intended route, and point of destination.
The moratorium also covers recreational activities such as scuba diving, island hopping, and other tourist activities.
The stranded passengers were mostly in Southern Tagalog, Western Visayas, Bicol and Eastern Visayas.
“The port with the greatest number of stranded passengers is in Matnog, and then the one across the island,” Balilo said.
“If your trips are not urgent, let’s delay that so that you won’t add to the number of stranded passengers in our ports,” Balilo added.
He said those stranded in ports could face problems such as lack of hygiene due to the limited capacity of lavatories in congested ports.
The weather bureau warned of possible flooding in 34 major river systems in Eastern Visayas Region due to heavy rains brought by Typhoon Tisoy.
In an advisory issued Monday, the weather bureau identified several rivers in six provinces that would likely be affected by the heavy downpour.
These water courses are in Sangputan, Palo, Solano, Daguitan, Marabong, Cadacan, Bongquirogon, Salug, Pagbanagaran, Pagsangahan, and Binahaan in Leyte; and Catarman, Bugko, Pambujan, Catubig, Palapag, Mano, and Gamay in Northern Samar.
Other affected rivers are Oras, Dolores, Ulot, Taft, Borongan, Suribao, Llorento, Balangiga, and Sulat in Eastern Samar; Basey, Silaga, Calbiga, and Jibatan in Samar; and Bisay, Himbangan, and Pandan in Southern Leyte; and all river systems in Biliran province.
People living in low-lying areas near these river systems are advised to be on alert for possible flash floods. Those settled near mountain slopes are told to watch out for signs of landslides.
Earlier, the Department of the Interior and Local Government identified 2,433 villages in the region as highly susceptible to flooding. The agency urged local governments to conduct appropriate preparedness and disaster risk reduction measures as needed.
Major airlines on Monday suspended more than 50 domestic flights because of the bad weather.
Philippine Airlines canceled 26 flights while its sister airline PAL Express suspended eight flights.
The flights canceled, include those in Manila, Cebu, Tuguegarao, Tacloban, Siargao, Clark, Catarman, Batanes, Davao, Legazpi, Cagayan de Oro, Naga and Masbate.
Sky Jet Airline also suspended M8 511 and M8 512 Manila-Camiguin-Manila flights on Monday.
“Affected passengers will be assisted in their flight rebookings. We are closely monitoring the track of the typhoon and shall provide updates should there be any other cancellations in the coming days,” PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said in a statement.
PAL advised air travelers not to proceed to the airport if their flights are canceled but instead, avail of the rebooking or rerouting options.
Cebu Pacific Air, meanwhile, announced it has canceled 120 domestic and 15 international flights scheduled for Dec. 3 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport because of the bad weather.
Those canceled were 10 flights of CEB and CebGo to and from Bacolod, eight in Cebu, six in Cagayan de Oro, seven in Tacloban, nine in Caticlan, three in Ozamiz, two in Bohol, 11 in Davao, six in Dumaguete, 10 in Iloilo, eight in Zamboanga two in Tuguegarao, four in Butuan, seven in General Santos, two in Cotabato, two in Basco, two in Siargao, two in Cauayan, six in Busuanga, two in Dipolog, one in Roxas and eight in Puerto Princesa.
The Puerto Princesa-Iloilo-Puerto Princesa and Zamboanga-Davao-Zamboanga flights were also suspended.
Among the international flights canceled were Manila to and from Macau, Hong Kong, Fukuoka, Nagoya, Narita, Osaka, and Singapore.
“Our weather forecasts show the typhoon will bring winds of over 50 knots over greater Metro Manila tomorrow (Dec. 3). In light of new information regarding unfavorable and potentially unsafe weather conditions, we regret that the following additional Cebu Pacific and Cebgo flights scheduled for Dec. 3, 2019 (Tuesday) are canceled,” the company said in a statement.
The airline urged passengers on flights that have already been canceled to check for updates through their e-mail and refrain from proceeding to the airport.
“We appeal for patience and understanding as we manage flights amidst inclement weather conditions,” it stated. With PNA