‘Ferdie’ cuts off Batanes communication lines

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TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan: The Office of the Civil Defense (OCD)-Region 2 in this city said communication lines in Batanes province were cut off after Typhoon Ferdie (international codename: Meranti) directly hit the province early Wednesday, paralyzing its operations to respond to emergencies.

OCD-Region 2 chief Norma Talosig said they could not yet determine the extent of the damage brought by the typhoon as Batanes is experiencing communication problems in the hardest-hit towns of Basco, Mahatao and Itbayat.

Electricity supply has been shut down by the National Power Corporation since Tuesday as a precaution.

The station of state weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric Geographical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) in Aparri town said Ferdie made landfall on Itbayat island at about 12:15 a.m. on Wednesday


OCD regional officers said they have not received reports on actual impact of the typhoon since communication lines were practically crippled.

Talosig said their main concern as of Wednesday was to reach Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils (LDRRMCs) in the three hardest-hit towns.

Batanes province is usually isolated whenever a typhoon strikes the area because it lacks satellite communication facilities.

Talosig said the only way they can communicate with their colleagues in Batanes is through cellular phone “but what can we do when all communication lines are cut off?”

”Our local disaster team in Batanes does not even have a satellite phone for them to be able to relay to us emergency situations,” she added.

The Regional DRRMC convened on Wednesday and dispatched a team to Batanes to find out the real situation there.

Talosig said they were able to contact other Batanes towns hours after Ferdie pummeled the island but communication with them was cut off later.

The Manila Times was able to get through the LDRRMC in Uyugan town by mobile phone but could not understand a word from the other end of the line.

Juan Cobica of Uyugan LDRRMC said it would take a week for Batanes Electric Cooperative to restore electricity in the town and even longer for the entire province.

Cobica added that electric posts were toppled and roofs were blown and torn off homes and buildings.

Newly planted agricultural crops and fresh harvests were heavily damaged.

Cobica said the damage was worst in Mahatao, Basco and Itbayat.

The Manila Times gathered that the typhoon did not cause any significant damage to the town of Calayan and the Babuyan Group of Islands, which were placed under signal No. 3 on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development-Region 2 said 14 families were evacuated on Tuesday in the municipalities of Basco, Batanes and Claveria, Cagayan.

The Philippine Coast Guard District of Northeastern Luzon said five vessels with 16 passengers bound for Calayan and Camiguin islands were stranded in Aparri town while two vessels bound for Calayan were also stranded in Claveria town.

Airline flights to and from Basco in Batanes were canceled as of Wednesday.

The Northern Luzon Grid of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) resumed normal operations as Ferdie exited at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

Lilibeth Gaydowen, NGCP regional corporate communications and public affairs officer, said their facilities sustained no damage.

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