Thousands flee from Lando

Helen Flores, Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

Power out in many areas  

MANILA, Philippines - Typhoon Lando (international name Koppu) knocked out power and triggered landslides and floods, forcing thousands to flee as it pounded Northern and Central Luzon yesterday.

Three casualties were initially reported while more than 23,000 people were evacuated from their homes, with more expected to flee as the slow-moving Lando grinds its way northward across Luzon before leaving the country as forecast on Wednesday.

Two persons were reported dead in Palayan City in Nueva Ecija, the governor of the province told ANC.

Gov. Aurelio Umali said he was informed of the casualties, who were retrieved from the floodwaters in the area.

Umali said they have yet to identify the two individuals to validate the report, as rescue operations were still ongoing.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), however, reported only one casualty from the typhoon.

NDRRMC executive director Alexander Pama said Aaron Castillo died after being pinned down by a fallen tree in Barangay Central in Quezon City yesterday. Four others were wounded in the incident.

One person also died of electrocution in Sta. Ignacia, Tarlac, according to Office of Civil Defense Central Luzon deputy director Nigel Lontoc.

Civil defense officials in Central Luzon are also verifying reports that three persons in Baler, Aurora and three others in Abukay, Bataan went missing.

Officials also reported power and communications disruptions across Luzon in the wake of Typhoon Lando, with many roads and bridges also blocked by landslides, floods or fallen trees and power pylons.

Meralco spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga said 24 of 707 distributed utility circuits were damaged and completely knocked out by the typhoon, leaving many from the provinces of Cavite, Bulacan and Rizal without electricity.

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines added it was monitoring power transmission lines in Central and Northern Luzon that were affected by Lando.

Ferry services across Luzon were suspended amid rough seas while commercial aviation was also disrupted with 44 flights cancelled, with two on international routes.

The NDRMMC said a total of 5,580 passengers have been stranded in various ports in the country due to the bad weather.

On the other hand, local government units in Central Luzon and Metro Manila ordered the suspension of classes today.

More rains

Aldczar Aurelio, weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said Lando is expected to linger over Luzon until Wednesday, a day longer than earlier forecast and could mean the region would be soaked with more rain.

Aurelio said the typhoon was moving slowly due its interaction with three weather systems – a tropical storm with international name Champi off the Pacific Ocean; a high pressure area over the West Philippine Sea, and a tail-end of a cold front.

Lando slightly weakened from 175 kilometers per hour to 150 kph after making landfall over Casiguran, Aurora at around 1 a.m. yesterday.

Lando then moved west northwest at a pace of five kph.

The typhoon moved northwest over the Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija, poised to hover at the Cordillera region, prompting authorities to warn of possible flashfloods and landslides triggered by heavy rains brought by Lando.

“We are strongly recommending forced evacuations in the Cordillera Administrative Region especially villages that are landslide- and flood-prone,” Pama said.

Even before Lando made landfall, landslides were reported as early as Saturday night in Tineg town in Abra; in Kibungan, Benguet; and Calanasan town in Apayao.

The main road leading to the towns of Paracelis, Natonin and Barlig was closed to traffic because of landslides.

The NDRRMC reported a total of 15 roads and 10 bridges remained impassable as of yesterday.

In a press briefing, Aurelio said Lando will continue to bring moderate to heavy to occasionally intense rain over Northern and Central Luzon, particularly the western section, until today.

He said improving weather was expected in some parts of Central Luzon, including Aurora and Metro Manila, beginning last night.

Aurelio said Lando is likely to weaken into a severe tropical storm tomorrow morning and exit landmass of Luzon on Wednesday.

He said the typhoon was expected to linger inside the Philippine area of responsibility until Friday.

As of 4 p.m. yesterday, the eye of Lando was spotted in the vicinity of Santa Fe, Nueva Vizcaya, packing winds of 150 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 185 kph.

It was forecast to move west northwest toward the regions of Cordillera and Ilocos at 5 kph.

Storm signal No. 4 has been lifted in Aurora, but the province is still under storm warning signal No. 2.

As of 5 p.m. yesterday, public storm warning signal No. 3 remained hoisted over Nueva Ecija, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Benguet, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Kalinga, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan and Zambales.

Storm signal No. 2 was still up in Cagayan including Calayan and Babuyan group of Islands, Isabela, Aurora, Abra, Apayao, Ilocos Norte, Bataan, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan, Rizal, northern Quezon including Polillo Islands and Metro Manila.

The provinces of Batanes, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and the rest of Quezon were placed under storm signal No. 1.

Stormy weather will still be experienced in areas under storm warning signal Nos. 2 and 3 while occasional rains and gusty winds will continue to affect the provinces under signal No. 1 until today, PAGASA said.

The weather bureau continued to warn residents in low lying and mountainous areas of the provinces with storm warning signals against possible flashfloods and landslides.

PAGASA has also warned of storm surges, massive typhoon-generated waves smashing along coastal areas, but there have been no reports of these as Lando moved inland.

Esperanza Cayanan, PAGASA weather division chief, continued to warn the public against venturing into the coastal waters of Northern Luzon due to big waves generated by the typhoon and the northeast monsoon.

“Even if the weather has improved in your area, traveling by sea in Northern Luzon remains dangerous,” Cayanan said in a press briefing at the NDRRMC office in Quezon City.

Cayanan also reported PAGASA’s Doppler radar in Baler, Aurora was damaged by Lando.

Residents of communities in Lando’s expected path in northern Luzon were hunkering down under darkening skies, according to Kate Marshall, part of an advance reconnaissance team of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Isabela.

“The rain is bad to intermittent and wind is picking up,” Marshall said.

She said residents of Dupax town, near the Pantabangan dam, were heading for the relative safety of schools and government buildings as floodwaters rose.


 The torrential rains dumped by Lando filled major dams in Luzon, including Angat Dam in Bulacan.

PAGASA hydrologist Richard Orendain said the water level at Angat Dam increased by 1.89 meters to 196.05 meters in the past 24 hours.

“It is expected to increase further in the coming days,” Orendain noted as Lando is expected to linger in the country until Wednesday or Thursday.

Angat supplies 97 percent of Metro Manila’s domestic water needs.

Orendain said Ambuklao and Binga dams in Benguet, the Magat Dam in Isabela, and the Ipo Dam in Bulacan, kept their gates open to release excess water due to continuous rains from Lando.

Three of the seven gates of Magat Dam have reportedly been opened. The dam is releasing 1,690 cubic meters of water per second.

Orendain said the water released from Magat Dam would flow to Cagayan River, near the area of Gamu town in Isabela province.

‘Strongest cyclone in 5 years’

Malacañang said President Aquino was closely monitoring the situation in typhoon-hit areas and constantly received updates from Cabinet members.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma said Aquino has ordered agencies to ensure the prompt delivery of assistance to affected areas.

The President, however, did not attend the NDRRMC meeting yesterday in Camp Aguinaldo.

“There is a situation room in the Malacañang Park where such meetings can be held. There is no doubt that the national government led by President Aquino is continuously monitoring the situation,” Coloma said.

Coloma said the government has enough resources in the budget to assist the typhoon victims.  

The US’ Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) has categorized Lando as a super typhoon, a term used for cyclones with maximum winds of at least 150 mph, equivalent of a Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

PAGASA uses 10-minute average readings for a cyclone’s wind speed, compared to the one-minute average readings of JTWC. This means that PAGASA readings produce lower average maximum sustained wind speeds for cyclones.

According to reports, Lando is the strongest cyclone to make landfall in Luzon since Super Typhoon Juan (Megi) in 2010.

Exactly five years ago yesterday, Juan hit Northern Luzon provinces, leaving at least 11 people dead and damage to agriculture amounting to P1 billion.

The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms each year, many of them deadly.

The deadliest and strongest on record, Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), destroyed entire towns in central Visayas in November 2013, leaving more than 7,350 people dead or missing. –Artemio Dumlao, Raymund Catindig, Edu Punay, Eva Visperas, Cesar Ramirez, Ric Sapnu, Rudy Santos, Mayen Jaymalin, Rainier Allan Ronda, Manny Galvez, Ramon Efren Lazaro, Danessa Rivera, Robertzon Ramirez, Non Alquitran












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