Sunday, May 18, 2008

7 killed at height of 'Cosme'--gov’t reports

It was the so-called calm before the storm.

Northern and Central Luzon experienced moderate rains and wind on Saturday afternoon as tropical storm "Cosme" (international code name Halong) hovered over these regions. But by Saturday night through Sunday, Cosme's wrath was felt in Zambales, Pangasinan, Benguet, La Union and the Ilocos provinces.

Seven people reportedly died in Pangasinan, Dagupan City and La Union during Cosme's onslaught on Saturday night, while two other children swept away by floods in Dagupan City were still missing as of Sunday.

Power supply was cut off in several areas in Central and Northern Luzon on Saturday as trees fell on power lines in Pangasinan, Benguet and Zambales. Power supply had yet to be restored in most of these provinces as of Sunday afternoon.

Several roads in Benguet were closed as landslides hit these areas.

Thousands of families were left homeless in Pangasinan and Zambales as strong winds and waves battered coastal communities.

Reports reaching the provincial disaster coordinating council (PDCC) in Pangasinan said two persons died in Bugallon town, while another died in San Fabian town.

Lourdes Soriano, 72, was hit by a galvanized iron sheet blown off by strong winds in Bugallon town. The other victim, Cesario basi, died after a coconut tree fell on his house on Saturday night.

A 36-year-old man, identified only as Pascual, was pinned by a fallen mango tree in Barangay Bolasi in San Fabian town.

In Dagupan City, Supt. Dionicio Borromeo, police chief, said the body of two-year-old Miguel Poserio was found floating along Tanap River at Catacdang Bonuan on Sunday. However, his two brothers, three-year-old Randyl and four-year-old Rodyl, were still missing as of Sunday. Their mother said the three boys disappeared Saturday night.

Dr. Anthony Golez, deputy administrator of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), told reporters Sunday afternoon that the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) received field reports that three persons were killed in La Union. The NDCC, he said, was still confirming the La Union deaths.

The victims were said to have died of electrocution and trauma injuries sustained after being hit by flying GI sheets and fallen trees, said Golez who is concurrently a Malacañang deputy spokesperson.

"Zambales and Pangasinan were the hardest hit by the typhoon," Golez said.

In Central Luzon, strong winds accompanying Cosme damaged 7,000 houses in Sta. Cruz, Zambales, on Saturday night, Gov. Amor Deloso told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Sunday.

"The winds were strong. They were like ipo-ipo (tornado)," he said when reached by phone while inspecting the damage in the town at past 10 a.m.

The number of damaged houses accounted for 80 percent of total houses in Sta. Cruz, he said.

The Zambales provincial government opened three evacuation centers in public schools in villages Malabago and Gama, and at the Sta. Cruz Academy at the town proper.

More than 500 families or about 3,000 people living near the shores of the South China Sea in the town sought refuge there on Saturday afternoon, he said.

The rest of the affected families chose to stay in their damaged houses, he added.

Deloso said the municipal board in Sta. Cruz would meet in an emergency session on Sunday to declare the town under a state of calamity so the town and provincial governments can use portions of their calamity funds for the reconstruction of houses.

At least 23 houses in a resettlement site in Barangay Cawag in Subic town were damaged as heavy rains and strong winds pounded the area on Saturday. Reports said most of the houses had cracked walls and floors.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development in Central Luzon said floods hit villages in Botolan, San Antonio and Iba towns, all in Zambales.

Reports from the Bulacan PDCC on Sunday said there was no report of flooding or typhoon-related casualty in the province's 21 towns and three cities.

On Sunday, major roads in Pangasinan were littered with galvanized iron sheets from blown off rooftops, fallen trees and electric posts and other debris.

"We did not expect the typhoon was this strong," said Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino Jr.

"We can see the devastation but we cannot quantify yet the damage because our local officials are still in the process of assessing the damages in their own towns," he said.

Power went off early Saturday night as Cosme unleashed strong winds and dumped strong rains. Telephone lines also went down after trees fell on electric and telephone lines.

Several families were reported to have been evacuated in Lingayen, Calasiao and Manaoag towns, and San Carlos City.

Espino has ordered clearing operation in major roads in the province to ease the flow of traffic.

Espino said worst hit by 'Cosme' were western and central Pangasinan towns. He said he recommended to the provincial board the declaration of the province under a state of calamity.

In Dagupan City, city administrator Alvin Fernandez said the city took a heavy blow from "Cosme."

"Dagupan City was badly hit but at the moment we cannot assess yet the damage to property for the very reason that it's massive," Fernandez said.

"The truth is that we are prepared for a calamity but not for this type… which was unexpected," he said.

At the Dagupan City Jail, inmates took advantage of the typhoon and the power failure Saturday night and engaged in a riot at 7 p.m. Three inmates escaped during the melee.

But a report at the provincial disaster coordinating council here said one inmate was rearrested.

Fernandez said Dagupan City would be declared under a state of calamity.

"It is just formality. Everyone already sees that we are already in a state of calamity. The fish pens, the crops are all destroyed. Most of the houses, especially those made of light materials, have been damaged," he said.

Bangus (milkfish) pens and ponds in the city also overflowed, allowing bangus to escape to the Lingayen Gulf.

As result, bangus prices went down from a range of P75 to P80 a kilogram to P25 a kg.

Several hardware stores in Calasiao, Pangasinan, ran out of supplies, especially nails, as many residents started rebuilding their damaged houses on Sunday.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Sunday inspected the typhoon damage in Pangasinan.

In Benguet, landslides that hit the province's interior roads led provincial disaster relief officials scrambling for loaders to clear blocked roads.

Cosme's continuous rains closed several provincial roads but several private contractors sent their equipment to clear these roads.

As of 11 a.m. Sunday, the following areas were closed to traffic: Guiset-Ambuklao-Guirrel in Kabayan and Bokod towns, Dalupirip and Twin River in Itogon town, Kennon Road in Tuba and Palew in Tublay.

The Barangay Pakpakitan section of the Halsema Highway in Buguias town was closed but Gov. Nestor Fongwan immediately sent a loader there to clear the area.

Fongwan said more loaders would be needed to clear landslide-hit sections of the 84-km Halsema Highway. The province has only two loaders and a bulldozer.

The highway passes through the major vegetable producing towns of La Trinidad, Tublay, Atok, Buguias and Kibungan in Benguet and Bauko in Mt. Province.

Fongwan allayed fears of lack of vegetable supply since the Halsema Highway along Atok, Tublay and Kibungan towns were open. He said the typhoon struck on Saturday and Sunday when there was no trading.

Two families in Barangay Alno in La Trinidad town escaped death when their houses were destroyed as Cosme crossed the province on Saturday night.

Juanna Banawe, provincial social welfare officer, said Waldo Manuel's house was crushed by rolling boulders while Daniel Aquino's family was able to move out before a strong current swept their house.

At least 21 houses in Sitios Toll Gate, Kiangan, Mill Site, Power and Green Valley in Barangay Camp 6 along Kennon Road were damaged by landslides.

Atok Mayor Concepcion Balao provided comic relief at the provincial disaster coordinating council center at the provincial capitol when she declared that classes in her town would be suspended.

She retracted the announcement after she realized schools were still closed for the summer break.

Roads leading to Ifugao and Mt. Province were closed due to several landslides.

Only Kennon Road, however, was closed among the major routes to and from Baguio City, reports from the Office of Civil Defense in the Cordillera said.

The OCD said two minor landslides were reported along Kennon Road but the agency ordered the road's closure as a "preventive measure."

The Nueva Vizcaya–Ifugao–Mt. Province road, Banaue-Hungduan road and Banaue-Mayoyao road were closed to traffic. Clearing operations started on Sunday.

In Baguio City, the OCD reported only two typhoon-related injuries in the city. A car passing by Bakakeng Road was lucky to miss a tree falling although Harvey Sevilla, 23, was hurt as a branch hit him.

Roger Damaso, 28, was also hit by a fallen branch while walking along a road in Barangay Camp 8. Both are now at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center.

A house near the Dontogan Elementary School was covered by a landslide but the five family members living there were unhurt.

OCD reports showed that rainfall measured 206.86 millimeters on Sunday.

"The storm was not so strong but the rains were hard," an OCD official said.

The National Transmission Corp. (Transco) ordered half a meter opened in Ambuklao's gate valves to release excess water, but the firm had not been able to update OCD abut the water level at the dam on Sunday morning. Reports from Gabriel Cardinoza, Yolanda Sotelo-Fuertes, Delmar Cariño, Frank Cimatu and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Tonette Orejas, Carmela Reyes and Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon; Nikko Dizon, Inquirer in Manila

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Zambales, Pangasinan worst hit by 'Cosme' - NDCC

Zambales and Pangasinan are the provinces hit hardest by tropical storm "Cosme," according to the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC).

Anthony Golez Jr, NDCC deputy administrator said at least two people were reported injured in Baguio City, while several road networks were disrupted due to trees that felled by the storm, which is forecast to exit Philippine territory by Tuesday.

"So far, Zambales at Pangasinan ang may pinakamatinding pinsala (So far
Zambales and Pangasinan have been hit hardest)," Golez said in an interview on dzBB radio.

The Health department has ordered local medical teams to make sure epidemics do not break out in evacuation centers, according to Golez.

The health teams have instructions also to make sure children do not catch diseases while in evacuation centers.

Golez said Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr ordered the release of rice to families in areas affected by the storm.

As this developed, dzBB radio quoted a report from the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council saying that it might take a month before electric power in Pangasinan is restored.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said "Cosme" continues to weaken while traversing the mountainous terrain of Northern Luzon.

It said that as of 10 a.m., "Cosme" was 30 kilometers (km) east of Tuguegarao City, packing maximum sustained winds of 85 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 100 kph.

"Cosme" was moving northeast at 19 kph and was expected to continue to cross Northern Luzon Sunday.

By Monday morning it was expected to be 370 km east-northeast of Aparri, Cagayan or at 330 km east-southeast of Basco, Batanes.

On Tuesday morning it is expected to be 1,030 km northeast of Basco, Batanes or at 440 kms east-southeast of Okinawa, Japan or outside the Philippine area of responsibility.

Under Storm Signal No. 2 are Batanes, Cagayan, Babuyan, and Isabela.

Under Storm Signal 1 are Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Apayao, Kalinga, Abra, Mountain Province, Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao, Quirino, Benguet, Pangasinan and La Union.

"Cosme" will continue to enhance the southwest monsoon and bring occasional rains over Southern Luzon and Western Visayas.

Residents in low-lying areas and near mountain slopes were advised to take all the necessary precautions against possible flash floods and landslides.

Residents along the coastal areas of Western Luzon and Western Visayas were also alerted by Pagasa against big waves. - GMANews.TV

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'Cosme' ravages Zambales town; 7,000 families homeless

Tropical storm "Cosme" has ravaged Sta. Cruz town in Zambales province, leaving about 7,000 families in the area homeless, according to Governor Ramon B. Lacbain

In an interview with radio dzBB on Sunday, Lacbain appealed for help for the residents of Sta. Cruz, after the storm wrecked an estimated 75 to 85 percent of the homes there.

As of posting time, there were only about 500 people who were evacuated to safer places, according to Lacbain. "Kagabi lang nag-evacuate kasi malalim ang tubig (We were able to evacuated them just last night because the water was deep)."

Santa Cruz, a second class municipality, has a population of 49,269 people in 9,754 households, based on the 2000 census. - GMANews.TV

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