Hanna pounds extreme north; floods hit south

Ghio Ong, Helen Flores - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Strong winds and heavy rains continued to pound extreme Northern Luzon yesterday as Typhoon Hanna (international name Soudelor) moved closer to the Batanes-Taiwan area.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said storm warning signal No. 2 was raised over Batanes, including Itbayat, as of 5 p.m. yesterday.

Signal No. 1, meanwhile, remained hoisted over Calayan and Babuyan group of islands and Northern Cagayan.

Aside from stormy weather, PAGASA also warned residents of these areas against possible storm surges.

As of 4 p.m., the eye of Hanna was located at 335 kilometers northeast of Itbayat, packing winds of 165 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 200 kph.

It continued to move west-northwest at a speed of 20 kph.

PAGASA maintained Hanna was not expected to make landfall but it would continue to enhance the southwest monsoon, which would bring rains in many parts of the country until the weekend.

Hanna, the eighth tropical cyclone to enter the country this year and the first weather disturbance this month, was forecast to exit the Philippine area of responsibility this morning.

Rains from the enhanced southwest monsoon, however, would persist over Luzon, including Metro Manila, in the next few days, the weather bureau said.

PAGASA reiterated its warning against possible flashfloods and landslides, especially in Southern Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao, the areas that have been experiencing rains in the past weeks due to the intertropical convergence zone.

It also warned fishermen against going out to the northern and eastern seaboards of Luzon, southern seaboard of Southern Luzon, and the seaboards of Palawan, the Visayas and Mindanao due to big waves generated by Hanna and the southwest monsoon.

If it maintains its present speed and track, the eye of Hanna is expected to be at 450 km north-northwest of Itbayat this morning and at 850 km northwest of Itbayat tomorrow morning.

By Monday morning, it would be at 1,245 km northwest of Itbayat.

Peasant families affected

Meanwhile, the flashfloods that hit swaths of agricultural lands in North Cotabato and Maguindanao on Wednesday affected thousands of peasant families, government agencies reported yesterday.

Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on Thursday dispatched workers of the region’s humanitarian emergency assistance and response team (HEART) to assess the situation of flood victims in Maguindanao’s Montawal, Pagalungan, Northern Kabuntalan and Datu Piang towns, where dozens of villages are now inundated.

The four towns are located along the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta, which is Asia’s largest.

The vast delta is a catch basin for dozens of rivers that spring from forested hinterlands in Bukidnon, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato.

Reports from the provincial government of North Cotabato in Administrative Region 12 said more than 6,000 families have also been displaced when rivers and swamps that connect to the Liguasan Delta overflowed early this week due to incessant rains.

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza had also deployed relief workers in flooded areas in the towns of Pikit, Midsayap and Aleosan, all in the first district of the province, to attend to the needs of flood victims.

In an advisory, the HEART, which is functioning under Hataman’s ministerial control, said 11 barangays in Montawal are flooded, affecting 2,320 families.

The HEART said 4,229 families have been affected by floods that engulfed low-lying areas in Pagalungan.

More than 5,000 families were also affected by the floods in Northern Kabuntalan and Datu Piang in southwest of Maguindanao, according to HEART.

Landslides in 3 provinces

Hanna has caused landslides in three provinces but no casualties have been reported so far.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) yesterday said heavy rains triggered landslides in Iloilo, Antique and Zamboanga del Sur early this week.

The landslide in Iloilo happened in Barangay Atimonan in Janiuay town last Wednesday at around 3 p.m.

A landslide also occurred in Barangay Maragudbud in San Remigio, Antique on Thursday at around 7 a.m.

A landslide caused by rains hit Zamboanga del Sur on the same day. The landslide happened in Barangay Baclay in Tukuran, Zamboanga del Sur at around 8 a.m.

An hour later, a flooding incident transpired in Barangays Sto. Niño and Camanga, also in Tukuran town due to the overflowing of the Camanga River.

Meanwhile, the death toll from the intertropical convergence zone in Northern Mindanao remained at eight. All of the fatalities were from Bukidnon, according to the NDRRMC. – With John Unson, Alexis Romero Rainier Allan Ronda

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