Storm signals up in 7 provinces

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    CATANDUANES was placed under storm signal warning No. 2 yesterday as tropical depression “Ramon” intensified into a storm.

    Under signal No. 1 are Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay and Sorsogon.

    As of 4 p.m. yesterday, the eye of Ramon was some 390 km east of Catarman in Northern Samar. It was moving west northwest at 10 kph, and packing maximum sustained winds of 65 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 80 kph. It is forecast to be 165 km northeast of Virac, Catanduanes this afternoon and 250 km east of Baler, Aurora tomorrow afternoon.

    The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) earlier Ramon may make landfall over the weekend in the eastern side of northern Luzon.

    PAGASA said light to moderate with occasional heavy rains may be experienced in the eastern portion of Cagayan and Isabela, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes until this afternoon. Light to moderate with intermittent heavy rains may be felt in Apayao, Aurora, Quezon and the rest of Cagayan, Isabela, and the Bicol region also until afternoon.

    Meanwhile, 13 fishermen were reported missing after their boat sank near Scarborough Shoal off Zambales on Thursday last week due to tropical storm “Quiel,” the Philippine Coast Guard reported yesterday.

    PCG spokesman Capt. Armand Balilo said a 14th fisherman from the same boat was rescued on Monday morning at around 30 nautical miles off Scarborough Shoal, also known as Panatag Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc.

    Balilo said the fisherman, identified Angelito Epetito Jr. of the fishing boat “Three Sisters,” was rescued by another fishing boat, “Joseph,” which found Epepito holding on to a water container, floating.

    Boat Joseph later turned over Epepito to Coast Guard officials.

    Citing information from Epepito, Balilo said their ill-fated fishing boat sank “due to strong winds and big waves” brought by Quiel early morning of Thursday last week while they were sailing to Mariveles, Bataan from Recto Bank off Palawan.

    The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said six people from Cagayan and Apayao provinces died due to Quiel, including two children. It has also affected 28,247 families or 115,409 persons.

    “He remained afloat for four days until rescue came,” said Balilo of Epepito. Balilo said the PCG learned of the incident also on Thursday.

    Balilo said three Coast Guard ships — BRPs Tubbataha, Capones and Boracay — are still conducting search and rescue operations.

    China gained control of the shoal after a standoff with Philippine ships in 2012. The Chinese initially prevented Filipinos from fishing in the area but later reconsidered due improved relations with the administration of President Duterte.

    “We will also coordinate with China Coast Guard in case they rescued them (fishermen).

    There were instances in the past when the Chinese Coast Guard and passing vessel rescued (our fishermen in distress),” said Balilo.