Three people were killed while thousands were evacuated as powerful Typhoon Ineng (international name: Goni) approached the Philippines and Taiwan on Friday, authorities said.
In the highland town of Itogon in Benguet, two construction workers died after a landslide buried their roadside tent in rocks and mud. Close to 400 people in flood-prone towns were moved to shelters, police and disaster officials said.
An 11-year-old boy identified as John Lee Mayon was reportedly killed in a landslide that buried their home in Namatec, Sabangan, in Mountain Province.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd has ordered various government agencies to keep track of the typhoon.
“The directive of the President is being carried out now on the affected areas by Ineng,” said Malacanang spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
He added that the President particularly ordered the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to coordinate with other agencies to ensure prompt and effective service to those affected by the typhoon.
Ineng was forecast to graze the Batanes islands off the Philippines’ northern tip on Saturday morning on its way to Taiwan, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).
The storm, the seventh to enter the Philippines this year, packs maximum sustained winds of 170 kilometers (105 miles) per hour with gusts of up to 205 kph, it said.
It has maintained its strength as it continues to move slowly over the Balintang Channel, Pagasa said in its 5 p.m. Friday weather bulletin.
Weather forecasters said that as of 5 p.m. the eye of the typhoon was located based on Basco doppler radar and all available data 110 kilometers east of Calayan, Cagayan.
Since Ineng maintained its speed and movement, it was forecast to be at 55 km northwest of Basco, Batanes. by Saturday afternoon.
By Sunday afternoon, the typhoon is expected to be at 320 km north-northeast of Basco and by Monday afternoon will be outside Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) or at 725 km northeast of Basco.
In the next 24 hour forecast, Pagasa said stormy weather with rough to very rough seas would prevail over Batanes, Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Kalinga, Apayao, Abra and Cagayan, including Calayan and Babuyan group of islands and rains with gusty winds over the rest of Cordillera, La Union and Ilocos Sur.
The NDRRMC has raised its alert level from blue to red even as disaster mitigation teams have started preemptive evacuation of a number of affected families in the province of Cagayan and Baguio City and other areas in the Cordilleras. The Office of Civil Defense in Ilocos and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) has also raised alert level to red.
In a situation report issued also on Friday, the NDRRMC said a total of 127 families comprising 377 people were preemptively evacuated from their houses in Barangay Caroan in Gonzaga, Barangay Balatubat in Calayan and Barangay Simbaluca in Santa Teresita, all in Cagayan.
Preemptive evacuation was ordered in Baguio City, Benguet and Kalinga because of continuous heavy rainfall in the past 24 hours, it said.
In CAR, a total of 12 national roads were closed to traffic because of floods. Rockfall rendered only one lane of Tagudin-Cervantes Road in Ilocos Sur passable to vehicles.
No buses were allowed to traverse the Halsema Highway on Friday. Landlides were reported at the Pactli and Gonogon section of the Baguio-Bontoc Road and the Cabunagan and Dawdawan section of the Mountain Province-Ilocos Sur road as well as the Dantay-Sagada road.
The center post of the temporary bridge at Nakagang Sabangan was swept away by a strong current isolating the western towns from central Bontoc.
Strong waves in portions of the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea) prevented fishermen in Bataan from venturing out to sea.
Fishing boats were anchored on dry ground in Biaan and Porto del Sol fishing villages in Mariveles.
With JOEL M. SY EGCO, GINA DIZON, ERNIE ESCONDE, PNA and AFP