‘Rolly’ batters Bicol: Leaves 7 dead, displaces 390,000 residents

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    Casualty. Townsfolk in San Francisco, Guinobatan, Albay province carry the body of a victim of typhoon Rolly. REUTERS PHOTO

    SUPER typhoon “Rolly” yesterday battered the Bicol region and other parts of Luzon, leaving seven people dead and a number of areas flooded.

    At least 390,000 residents in the Bicol region alone have been evacuated before Rolly, the world’s strongest storm so far this year, made landfalls and later weakened into a typhoon.
    This developed as a tropical storm east of Central Luzon entered the Philippine area of responsibility and was named “Siony.”

    The storm was still far to affect any part of the country, said weather specialist Chris Perez.
    As of 10 a.m. yesterday, Siony was some 1,365 km east of Central Luzon, moving west northwest at 30 kph, and packing maximum sustained winds of 75 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 90 kph, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

    PAGASA, in a bulletin issued at 5 p.m. yesterday, said Rolly was forecast to exit the Luzon landmass by Sunday night after passing areas near Metro Manila.

    “During its traverse of southern Luzon, Rolly is forecast to weaken but will emerge as a typhoon over the West Philippine Sea,” PAGASA also said.

    Rolly made the first landfall in Bato, Catanduanes at around 4:50 a.m., nearly three hours after intensifying into a super typhoon, with maximum winds of 225 kph and gustiness of up to 280 kph.

    The second landfall was in Tiwi, Albay at around 7:20 a.m. Rolly weakened into a typhoon about 40 minutes later, PAGASA said.

    Rolly made the third landfall in San Narciso, Quezon at noon.

    PAGASA initially placed Catanduanes, Albay and the eastern portion of Camarines Sur under signal No. 5, the highest signal warning, but these were later downgraded as Rolly weakened.

    As 4 p.m, yesterday, Rolly was some 50 km south southwest of Tayabas, Quezon. It was moving west at 25 kph with maximum sustained winds of 165 kph near the center and gustiness of of up to 230 kph.

    Many areas were still under signal No. 3 under PAGASA’s 5 p.m. bulletin. These were Metro Manila, the southern portion of Zambales, Bataan, southern portion of Pampanga, southern portion of Bulacan, Rizal, Quezon including Polillo Islands, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Marinduque, northwestern portion of Occidental Mindoro, including Lubang Island, and northern portion of Oriental Mindoro.

    Signal No. 2 was up over the southern portions of Tarlac and Nueva Ecija and the rest of Zambales, Pampanga, Bulacan, Occidental Mindoro, and Oriental Mindoro.

    Under signal No. 1 were mainland Cagayan, Isabela, Apayao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Abra, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Benguet, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Aurora, rest of Nueva Ecija and Tarlac, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Burias Island, Romblon, and Calamian Islands.

    FATALITIES

    The Office of Civil Defense-Bicol region said seven people died from Rolly.

    The fatalities are all from Albay — two from Malinao town and one each in the towns Daraga, Guinobatan, Oas, and Polangui and Tabaco City. It said the cause of death is being determined.

    It also said 107,831 families or 390,298 persons have been displaced by the typhoon, of which 94,492 families or 344,455 persons are housed in evacuation centers while the rest are staying with their relatives and friends.

    It said Albay and Catanduanes has no electricity.

    Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara said four people were initially reported to have died in his province. Three of them, including a five-year-old, drowned, while the fourth was pinned down by an uprooted tree.

    Bichara said lahar flowed from Mayon Volcano due to intense rains, affecting some communities.

    He also said at least two barangays were flooded due the damage of a dike in Tiwi town.

    “Only visible were the roof of some houses. Fortunately, no one died,” said Bichara, attributing the good news to the preemptive evacuation of residents.

    Bichara said flooding was also reported in Guinobatan town, prompting the development of search and rescue teams.

    “We will go around and get the exact assessment… At the moment, we have no electricity and no communication (in some areas) so we have to go there,” said Bichara.

    Eric Apolonio, spokesman of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said the Legazpi City airport sustained “minor damage” due to Rolly.

    QUEZON, MARINDUQUE

    Quezon Gov. Danilo Suarez said the province experienced strong winds and intense rains but said all roads are passable as of noon yesterday.

    “As of now, we have no casualty although the damage will be agricultural products will definitely hit a billion pesos,” said Suarez as he appealed for additional food packs for thousands of residents displaced.

    “We have many houses made of light materials. By this time, we would expect thousands will be without roof when Rolly leaves…Right now, we have 10 towns without electricity because many electric post were toppled,” said Suarez.

    Rino Labay, head of the Marinduque provincial disaster risk disaster management council, said the province was battered by strong winds and heavy rains at around 3 p.m
    “Most of our areas are without electricity; we are running on generators,” he said.

    Mark Timbal, spokesman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said power interruptions were also reported in Laguna and Batangas.

    Timbal said the NDRRMC got initial information that the local government of Cavite has placed the province under state of calamity “but the NDRRMC is yet to receive an official official copy of a resolution of the provincial board.”

    PREEMPTIVE EVACUATION

    Ricardo Jalad, NDRRMC executive director, said as of 11 a.m. yesterday, 96,543 families or 346,993 persons in Bicol, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas have been preemptively evacuated.

    The NDRRMC said 8,635 families or 30,960 persons have been evacuated in Metro Manila, Cordillera Administrative Region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and Eastern Visayas
    Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said authorities effected preemptive and forced evacuation in hazard areas. “We prepared well prior to the arrival of the typhoon so we’re hoping less casualties or zero casualties,” he said.

    PNP chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan said police personnel have been prepositioned in “areas of concern” in northern and southern Luzon, ready to extend assistance to people who are in distress.

    AFP chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay said nearly 5,000 soldiers, 2,000 militiamen and 1,000 reservists were also deployed in northern Luzon, southern Luzon, Metro Manila and Visayas to lend help to the people.

    Gapay said two transport planes, eight helicopters, four Navy ships were also alerted for relief missions. — With Noel Talacay, Christian Oineza, Gerard Naval, and Myla Iglesias