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Labuyo barrels toward Luzon

Workers from an outdoor media firm roll down a tarpaulin on EDSA, Balintawak in preparation for Typhoon Labuyo.  BOY SANTOS

•  Classes suspended as storm signals up

• Strong typhoon packs 165 kph winds

MANILA, Philippines - The state weather bureau raised yesterday public storm warning signal number 3 over nine areas in northern Luzon as powerful Typhoon Labuyo (international name Utor) moved closer to the country.

Packing winds of 165 kilometers per hour near the center and with gustiness of up to 200 kph, Labuyo is the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines so far this year.

As of 4 p.m. yesterday, the eye of Labuyo was spotted at 130 kilometers north of Virac, Catanduanes or 220 km southeast of Casiguran, Aurora.

It was forecast to move west-northwest at 19 kph and was expected to make landfall over Isabela-Aurora by 5 a.m. today.

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The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said as of 4 p.m. yesterday, signal No. 3 was hoisted over Aurora, Nueva Vizcaya, Mountain Province, Polilio Island, Quirino, Benguet, Ifugao, Nueva Ecija and Isabela.

Signal No. 2 was up in Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Rizal, northern Quezon, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Abra, Apayao, Kalinga and Cagayan.

Meanwhile, placed under signal No. 1 were Albay, Sorsogon, the rest of Quezon, Laguna, Calayan, Babuyan group of islands, Ilocos Norte, Zambales, Bataan, Cavite, Batangas and Metro Manila.

Labuyo slightly intensified as it continued to move closer to Isabela-Aurora area yesterday afternoon.

But PAGASA weather division chief Robert Sawi said it is unlikely to reach the super typhoon category before hitting land.

Sawi also explained that PAGASA is not officially using the term “super typhoon.”

It is a category used by the Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center to describe a typhoon with maximum sustained winds of 215 kph, he said.

Sawi said inclement weather was expected over areas under storm warning signals beginning yesterday afternoon.

After crossing Aurora, Labuyo, the 12th tropical cyclone to enter the country this year and the second weather disturbance this month, will pass Quirino, Nueva Viscaya, Benguet, Ifugao, Mt. Province, La Union, between Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte and exit towards the West Philippine Sea.

“We advise the public to postpone sea travel especially in areas under storm warning signals,” PAGASA weather forecaster Jori Loiz said.

Loiz warned residents in low-lying and mountainous areas against possible flashfloods and landslides while those under storm warning signals no. 2 and 3 were alerted against possible storm surges.

Rains, strong winds in MM

Although Metro Manila could be spared from a direct hit, PAGASA officials warned residents in the metropolis to brace for moderate rains due to the combined effect of the typhoon and the southwest monsoon.

Sawi urged operators to take down billboards as these could be damaged by strong winds.

Loiz said eastern Luzon and Metro Manila started to experience bad weather (moderate to occasionally heavy rains and gusty winds) yesterday.

He said Labuyo is predicted to be in the vicinity of Pasil, Kalinga this afternoon and 410 km northwest of Sinait, Ilocos Norte or outside the Philippine area of responsibility tomorrow afternoon.

Improving weather condition is expected beginning Wednesday, Loiz said.

Red alert

Eduardo del Rosario, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), said he had alerted all disaster managers in areas along the path of the typhoon to make appropriate measures to prevent severe damage or casualties.

“We declared red alert as of 8 a.m. today in regions 1, 2, 3, 5 and the National Capital Region. As far as preparations in the forthcoming typhoon are concerned, the provincial and municipal councils in the mentioned local government units (LGUs) are advised to prepare accordingly,” Del Rosario said in a press briefing yesterday.

Labuyo was predicted to dump 10 to 25 millimeters per hour of rain (heavy to intense) within its 600-km radius.

33 missing fishermen

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol yesterday said at least 33 fishermen from four towns of Catanduanes remained missing.

OCD-Bicol director Raffy Alejandro said the missing fishermen left their towns of Virac, Gigmoto, Pandan and Bagamanoc last Aug. 8 and have not returned home.

Seven other fishermen were reported to have gone home safely.

Alejandro said they had alerted all the coastal villages for the possible whereabouts of the missing fishermen.

“We have requested the different Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councils to help locate the missing fishermen and immediately relay to us their whereabouts just in case,” Alejandro said.

As of yesterday afternoon, a total of 7,581 passengers, 33 vessels, and 228 rolling cargoes and 12 motor bancas were also stranded in Visayas and southern Luzon due to the bad weather.

Four domestic flights bound for Naga and Manila, on the other hand, were cancelled.

Class suspension

Del Rosario reminded yesterday the public to follow the protocol in suspending classes.

Classes in kindergarten and pre-schools are suspended if public storm signal no. 1 is raised in their areas.

In areas where signal no. 2 is hoisted, classes in elementary and high school are suspended.

Once storm signal no. 3 is raised, classes in all levels, including college, are suspended.With Alexis Romero, Cet Dematera, Celso Amo, Rainier Allan Ronda

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