Aghon intensifies, makes 8 landfalls

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
Aghon intensifies, makes 8 landfalls
A century-old acacia tree fell on two vehicles parked in front of St. John the Baptist Parish in Taytay, Rizal due to continuous rain and strong winds brought by Severe Tropical Storm Aghon yesterday.
Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Severe Tropical Storm Aghon is expected to intensify into a typhoon before it leaves the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) by midweek after having made eight landfalls since Friday, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

As of 4 p.m. yesterday, Aghon (international name Ewiniar) had intensified into a severe tropical storm.

Based on the latest track of PAGASA, Aghon is expected to develop into a typhoon when it reaches the coastal waters of Casiguran, Aurora and before it exits PAR on Wednesday, PAGASA senior weather specialist Benison Estareja said at a press conference.

“By Tuesday morning, it is expected to be 415 kilometers east of Calayan, Cagayan and then to move northeastward, and by Wednesday morning, it will already be 1,000 kilometers east-northeast of extreme Northern Luzon,” he said.

Estareja added that by noon of May 29, Aghon is expected to be outside PAR.

He said that Aghon slightly intensified over Sariaya,
 Quezon with maximum sustained winds of 75 kilometers per hour near the center, gustiness of up to 125 km/h, as it is moving northwestward at 10 km/h.

The first landfall of Aghon was at 11:20 p.m. on May 24 in Homonhon Island, Eastern Samar; followed by Giporlos, Eastern Samar at 12:40 a.m. on May 25; Basiao Island in Catbalogan, Samar at 4 a.m.; Cagduyong Island, Catbalogan at 5 a.m.; Batuan, Masbate at 10:20 a.m.; Masbate City at 10:45 a.m.; Torrijos, Marinduque at 10 p.m. and Lucena City, Quezon at 4 a.m. on May 26.

Based on the latest bulletin issued at 5 p.m. yesterday, tropical cyclone wind signal No. 3 was hoisted in the eastern section of Quezon including Polillo Islands.

Tropical cyclone wind signal No. 2 was raised in Aurora, the northern and central portions of Quezon, Laguna, eastern portion of Batangas, eastern and central portions of Rizal, and northern portion of Camarines Norte.

Meanwhile, tropical cyclone wind signal No. 1 was hoisted in the eastern portion of Isabela, eastern portion of Quirino, southern portion of Nueva Vizcaya, eastern and southern portions of Nueva Ecija, southern portion of Bataan, eastern portion of Pampanga, Bulacan, Metro Manila, the rest of Quezon, rest of Rizal, rest of Batangas, northern and central portions of Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, extreme northern portion of Romblon, the rest of Camarines Norte, and Camarines Sur.

Estareja added that PAGASA does not discount the possibility that Aghon will pass Laguna, Rizal, and eastern side of Bulacan, Aurora and Polillo islands.

He said that Aghon could bring 100 to 200 millimeters of rain over Aurora, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, Metro Manila, Camarines Norte until noon today.

Meanwhile, 50 to 100 millimeters of rains are expected in eastern Isabela, Nueva Ecija, rest of Bulacan, eastern Pampanga, Batangas,  Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Burias Island, Masbate, western Camarines Sur, Cuyo island, Palawan, Aklan and Antique.

Estareja warned of possible flooding and rain-induced landslides in affected areas.

‘These include those areas in Pasig and Marikina as the Marikina River may overflow. The next 24 hours will be crucial in terms of rains brought by Aghon,” he said.

He said gale warning is hoisted over the coastal waters of Aurora, Quezon and Marinduque, the southern coastal waters of Batangas, and northern coastal waters of Camarines Norte.

Over 2,700 affected

At least four people were injured while around 513 families or 2,734 persons were affected by Aghon, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said yesterday.

The four injured were in Legazpi, Albay, including a 30-year-old male who was hit when a tree fell on him while the three others were children, according to OCD spokesperson Edgar Posadas.

Of the affected, 2,669 are currently in evacuation centers.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said 18 barangays in Bicol region and Eastern Visayas were affected by Aghon.

In addition, 5,969 passengers, 40 vessels, 10 motor bancas, and 987 rolling cargoes, were stranded in the ports of Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol region, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas, according to NDRRMC.

The NDRRMC also reported that Aghon has affected three airports in Bicol and 48 seaports across the country.

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines spokesman Eric Apolonio confirmed that several flights were cancelled including CEBGO DG 6031/6032 Manila-San Jose-Manila in San Jose Airport, 5J 821/822 Manila-Virac-Manila in Virac Airport, CEBGO DG 6113/6114 Manila-Naga-Manila and DG 6117/6118 Naga-Manila-Naga in Naga airport.

Meanwhile, a number of patients in San Juan District Hospital in Batangas were evacuated after a flash flood hit Barangay Talahiban due to continuous rain.

The flooding came from an overflowing river along the Laiya-San Juan national road prompting the authorities to close it to traffic.

On May 24, the Philippine Coast Guard rescued 48 passengers and crew of a motorized boat that capsized in Masbate because of strong waves triggered by Aghon.

All of the passengers and crew were declared to be “in good condition” upon rescue.

Shelters on standby

The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) has put on standby shelter clusters nationwide as a proactive measure to cushion the impact of Aghon.

Human Settlements Secretary Jose Rizalino Acuzar placed the DHSUD’s regional offices on standby in Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Mimaropa, Calabarzon, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Cordillera Administrative Region, National Capital Region, Davao region and Caraga effective immediately.

The DHSUD regional offices were instructed to closely monitor their respective areas of jurisdiction and facilitate emergency response and humanitarian assistance as needed.

Acuzar also cited DHSUD’s partnership with the International Organization for Migration, which provides shelter-grade tarpaulins thru DHSUD for deployment to affected local government units.

Dam water levels rise

The water levels of at least five dams in Luzon recovered while the drop in elevation of Angat Dam slowed down amid the rains brought by Aghon, according to the latest monitoring of PAGASA.

As of 8 a.m. on Sunday, the water level of Binga Dam in Benguet increased by 0.73 meters as it reached 566.94 meters compared to its previous level of 566.21 meters.

Ipo Dam in Bulacan also improved by 0.18 meters from its previous level of 99.62 meters; La Mesa Dam in Quezon City was up by 0.02 meters from its previous level of 75.09 meters; and Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija also went up by 0.09 meters from its previous level of 174.41 meters.

Meanwhile, the decrease in the water level of Angat Dam was only at 0.09 meters after it reached 178.90 meters compared to its previous level of 178.89. On Saturday, the decrease was recorded at 0.38 meters.

Angat Dam was 33.11 meters below its normal high water level of 212 meters and 1.11 meters below its minimum operating level of 180 meters.

Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage and System engineer Patrick Dizon of the water and sewerage management department said that the MWSS started to reduce the release of water from Angat Dam to Ipo Dam.

“Since the rainfall in the watershed is high right now, we will start to reduce today (Sunday) the Angat releases to Ipo so we can maximize the watershed inflows and mitigate the spilling,” Dizon told The STAR.

Dizon added that there will be no release of water for irrigation until today as agreed with the National Irrigation Administration amid the rains being experienced in Bulacan and Pampanga.

Angat Dam supplies more than 90 percent of Metro Manila’s potable water needs and provides for the irrigation needs of 25,000 hectares of farmlands in Bulacan and Pampanga. — Pia Lee-Brago, Evelyn Macairan, Helen Flores, Rudy Santos, Arnell Ozaeta, Art Dumlao, Neil Jayson Servallos

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