‘Tisoy’ pummels Bicol, leaves 3 dead: ‘Mandatory evacuations saved lives’

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    AT least three persons were reported dead after typhoon “Tisoy” pummeled the Bicol region on Monday night, toppling electric posts and trees and damaging infrastructure and houses.

    Tisoy also disrupted power supply, air travel, and some events of the Southeast Asian Games, and forced government offices and schools to shut down.

    The fatalities were from the provinces of Camarines Sur and Oriental Mindoro where Tisoy made a fourth landfall at around 12:30 p.m. yesterday.

    Tisoy first made landfall in Gubat town in Sorsogon at around 11 p.m. on Monday, then in Burias Island in Masbate at around 4 a.m. yesterday. Its third landfall was in Torrijos, Marinduque at around 8:30 a.m.

    Typhoon signal warnings remained up in a number of areas yesterday, including Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, and Batangas which were under signal No. 3.

    Metro Manila was under signal No. 2 as of 5 p.m. yesterday, along with at least 15 provinces.

    Tisoy is expected to weaken into a severe tropical storm today and into a tropical storm by tomorrow.

    The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Tisoy brought “violent winds and intense to torrential rainfall” to Catanduanes, Albay, and Camarines Sur.

    In a weather bulletin issued at 5 p.m. yesterday, PAGASA said Tisoy continued to weaken and was “off the coast of Occidental Mindoro.”

    As of 4 p.m., the eye of Tisoy was some 110 km northwest of San Jose in Occidental Mindoro or 135 km north of Coron, Palawan.

    The weakened Tisoy was packing maximum sustained winds of 130 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 200 kph and was moving west at 25 kph.

    It was forecast to be 375 km west of Subic, Zambales this afternoon and 655 km west of Subic (out of the Philippine area of responsibility) on Thursday afternoon.

    Authorities evacuated some 225,000 people ahead of Tisoy’s arrival. Officials said their precautions prevented greater loss of life, while warnings of floods, storm surges and landslides were issued in the wake of the country’s 20th typhoon of the year.

    “We’ve seen great improvement in local government management of preparations for disasters,” said Mark Timbal, spokesman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

    As of 5 p.m. yesterday, signal No. 2 was up in Romblon, Camarines Norte, Metro Manila, Bulacan, Bataan, Tarlac, Pampanga, Rizal, Quezon including Polillo Islands, Zambales, Marinduque, Cavite, and Laguna, northern portion of Camarines Sur (Cabugao, Libmanan, Pamplona, Pasacao, Sipocot, Lupi, Ragay, Del Gallego), southern Nueva Ecija (Cabanatuan City, Cabiao, Gabaldon, Gapan City, General Tinio, Jaen, Laur, Palayan City, Peñaranda, San Antonio, San Isidro, San Leonardo, Santa Rosa, Aliaga, Licab, Zaragoza), southern Aurora (Dipaculao, Maria Aurora, Baler, San Luis, Dingalan), and Calamian Islands (Coron, Busuanga, Culion, Linapacan).

    Signal No. 1 was up in the southern portion of Quirino (Nagtipunan), the rest of Aurora, northern portion of Palawan (El Nido, Taytay, Araceli, Dumaran), rest of Camarines Sur, Cuyo Islands (Cuyo, Magsaysay, Agutaya), Pangasinan, southern portion of Nueva Vizcaya(Alfonso Castaneda, Aritao, Dupax Del Norte, Dupax del Sur, Kasibu, Santa Fe), Burias Island, and the rest of Nueva Ecija, northern Aklan (Malay, Buruanga, Nabas, Ibajay) and northern Antique (Caluya, Libertad, Pandan).

    Frequent to continuous heavy with isolated intense rains are expected until this morning in Quezon and Rizal.

    Occasional to frequent heavy rains are expected in Mindoro provinces, Metro Manila, Central Luzon, the rest of Calabarzon region, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera Administrative Region, Marinduque, and Romblon.

    Intermittent rains will be experienced in Calamian Islands.

    FATALITIES

    Claudio Yucot, director of the Office of Civil Defense in Bicol, said Marco Paulo Orsowa, died after he was electrocuted while fixing the roof of his house in Libmanan town in Camarines Sur.

    Oriental Mindoro Gov. Hubert Dolor said a 59-year-old father died when he was hit by a fallen tree while clearing debris in front of his house in Baco town. He said a second fatality was hit by a galvanized iron sheet in Pinamalayan town.

    Dolor said he received information about another person who died of cardiac arrest. “But (fatalities) directly related to the effect of the typhoon, we have two. It could have been more if we didn’t do preemptive evacuation.”

    Dolor also said Oriental Mindoro bore the brunt of Tisoy from 10 a.m. to about 2 p.m. yesterday. Clearing operations were ongoing to ensure that the national highways are passable.

    He said waist-deep flooding were reported in some areas in the province.

    Dolor said some schools, a mini gymnasium, and the provincial hospital were damaged by strong winds.

    Dolor said there was no reported major damage to infrastructure and government offices.

    He added he has been living in the province for 43 years and Tisoy is one of the strongest typhoons he has seen.

    FALLEN POSTS, TREES

    Pictures posted on social media showed waves crashing against bulwarks, panels flying off roofs, and fallen trees.

    Authorities warned of storm surges of up to three meters and possible floods and landslides ahead after heavy winds and rain.

    Worst hit was the airport in Legazpi City, which suffered structural damage, with television showing cables, lighting and panels hanging from the ceiling over the departure areas.

    Officials so far reported no significant damage from Tisoy, except for blocked roads caused by fallen trees and electric posts, damage to the Legazpi City airport and houses, cut communication lines, and power outage.

    Sorsogon Gov. Francis Escudero said many trees and electric posts fell, particularly in Gubat and Prieto Diaz towns. “The typhoon was really strong.”

    Escudero also said there was no reported casualty in the province as of 9 a.m. He attributed this to the preemptive evacuation of residents in areas that are prone to floods and landslides.

    Albay Gov. Francis Bichara said the province has no electricity because of toppled electric posts.

    He also said the terminal building of the Legazpi City airport was damaged but was not certain if the airport’s navigational facilities were also damaged.

    “The report is not yet complete but the terminal’s ceiling caved in, debris fell on the x-ray machine. Its windows, walls were damaged and are now due for repair,” said Bichara.

    Bichara said he has received reports that roofs of houses flew because of strong winds.

    “Malls were also damaged, the wind was really so strong… It didn’t bring so much rain, only strong winds,” he said.

    Bichara said there was also no reported casualty in Albay, noting the evacuation of about 49,000 families or 180,000 persons prior to Tisoy’s landfall.

    He said the situation in the province was calm as of noon yesterday.

    CANCELLED FLIGHTS, EVACUATIONS

    Operations at all terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport were suspended for 12 hours starting at 11 a.m., leading to the cancellation of at least 500 local and international flights.

    Airport operations are automatically suspended when surface wind strength reaches 65 knots.

    Passengers stranded at NAIA were given “malasakit packs” containing biscuits, wet wipes, and water.

    Manila evacuated some 1,700 residents from the city’s coastal areas and brought them to evacuation centers in Baseco, Delpan and Happyland.

    The Manila Department of Social Welfare distributed blankets and sleeping mats to evacuees at the Delpan center.

    In Muntinlupa, at least 700 families were evacuated as part of the preemptive measures.

    The local government set up evacuation centers with modular tents in barangay halls, public schools, and covered courts.

    Classes in all levels are suspended today in Batangas and some parts of Laguna, Quezon, and Romblon.

    Malacañang suspended work in government offices under the executive branch starting at noon and classes in public and private schools in Metro Manila, on the recommendation of the NDRMC.

    Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta ordered the suspension of work in all courts in Metro Manila also starting at noon. – With Rod Lagusad, Jocelyn Montemayor, Ashzel Hachero, Gerard Naval, Cyra Corral and Reuters