Power down as Rosita pummels Luzon

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
Power down as Rosita pummels Luzon
A bicycle rider approaches a toppled electric post on a provincial road in Barangay Lactawan, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya as Typhoon Rosita battered Luzon yesterday.
Victor Martin

MANILA, Philippines — Typhoon Rosita battered northern Luzon yesterday, but officials were hopeful that successful evacuations would help avoid a repeat of the death and destruction wrought by a powerful storm last month.

Rosita (international name Yutu) slammed into Dinapigue town in Isabela province before dawn yesterday with sustained winds of 150 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 210 kph.

The typhoon also lashed the provinces of Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Benguet, La Union and Pangasinan.

The storm knocked down trees and power posts and ripped roofs off small houses, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

There were initial reports, however, of a fatality identified as Elpidio Parana while his companion was injured after they got electrocuted when they tried to pass a fallen electric post in San Clemente, Tarlac.

Rosita had knocked down several transmission lines, leaving the provinces of Apayao, Kalinga, Cagayan, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, Ifugao and Quirino without power.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Rosita slightly weakened after landfall and was expected to blow out of the country later in the evening after barreling westward across provinces that were damaged by Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) in mid-September.

More than 10,000 villagers were moved to safety in the northern provinces before Rosita hit.

“We didn’t even have to do forced evacuations. The people are still scared. They readily moved from the mountainsides and away from the river after our police declared it was time to evacuate,” said Mayor Victorio Palangdan of Itogon in Benguet, the gold-mining mountain town where more than 90 villagers died, mostly due to landslides set off by Ompong’s rains.

More than 1,000 villagers moved to emergency shelters in Itogon.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said about 3,000 families are staying in evacuation centers in the provinces of Northern and Central Luzon.

NDRRMC spokesman Edgar Posadas told a press briefing that most of the evacuees, more than 10,000 individuals, are from Cagayan.

The National Power Corp. (Napocor), for its part, started precautionary measures on its supervised hydroelectric dams, including Ambuklao, Binga, San Roque, Angat and Caliraya dams, bleeding off excess water.

Classes had been suspended ahead in the provinces where the typhoon hit, including in Metro Manila. Air and sea transport were also suspended.

Rosita brought moderate to heavy rains with gusty winds over Metro Manila and nearby provinces. Metro Manila remained under signal No. 1 as of 5 p.m.

PAGASA weather specialist Benison Estareja said Rosita exited La Union at 2 p.m. yesterday.

As of 4 p.m., the eye of the typhoon was located at 125 km northwest of Dagupan City, Pangasinan, packing winds of 125 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 190 kph.

It was forecast to move west-northwest at 25 kph.

As of 5 p.m., tropical cyclone warning signal No. 3 remained hoisted over Pangasinan and La Union.

Signal No. 2 was raised over Abra, Ilocos Sur, Ifugao, Benguet, Mountain Province, Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Zambales.

Apart from Metro Manila, other areas placed under signal No. 1 were Ilocos Norte, Apayao, Kalinga, Cagayan, Isabela, Quirino, Aurora, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna and Batangas.

Moderate to heavy rains will still prevail over parts of Northern and Central Luzon, particularly Zambales and Pangasinan, until today, PAGASA said.

Rosita is expected to leave the Philippine area of responsibility this afternoon.

PAGASA weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio added Rosita was forecast to weaken into a severe tropical storm as it exits the Philippine area of responsibility and moves toward mainland China.

“We can expect less rainfall on Wednesday,” Aurelio said.

Meanwhile, fair weather apart from isolated rains due to thunderstorms is expected in most parts of the country tomorrow, All Saints’ Day.   – With Ding Cervantes, Raymund Catindig, Danessa Rivera, Jaime Laude, Eva Visperas, Rey Galupo, Janvic Mateo, Jun Elias, AP

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