Typhoon death toll climbs to 11

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Rescuers on speedboats hauled rain-soaked residents off rooftops on Wednesday after Typhoon Nona (international name: Melor) killed at least 11 people and cut power for millions.

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The typhoon, which tore in off the Pacific Ocean on Monday afternoon, caused widespread flooding across Bicol, Eastern Visayas and Southern Tagalog and also dumped heavy rain on Metro Manila.

The worst appeared to be over on Wednesday with the typhoon drifting into the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). But farming and fishing communities on Mindoro island were still enduring heavy flooding.

Floodwaters rose sharply across parts of Mindoro on Tuesday night, forcing residents to climb onto the roofs of their homes, according to Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali.

“The floods have begun to subside but there are still people on their roofs. Many homes were damaged. We are going to the areas on board the Coast Guard’s rubber boats today,” Umali said on dzMM radio.

Coast Guard personnel on speed boats hauled 21 people, including 14 children and a three-month-old baby, from rooftops in Calapan City, the capital of Oriental Mindoro, also on Tuesday night.

“They were drenched from the rain and crying for help. The rescue was difficult because of the strong currents,” according to a Coast Guard report, which said rescue work was continuing on Wednesday.

Intense rain in Metro Manila on Tuesday night submerged some roads and caused traffic chaos, although flooding in the megacity of 12 million had subsided by Wednesday morning (See related story).

The death toll climbed to 11 on Wednesday after authorities in Mindoro and Romblon reported six deaths.

The National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) also reported one more death from drowning on Samar where Nona first made landfall. Five people have now been confirmed killed on Samar.

Millions of people were also without power with no guarantees electricity would be restored before Christmas.

And 226,000 people remained in storm shelters, the NDRRMC said.
“This is going to be a sad Christmas for us,” Umali said.

‘Onyok’ in town
Meanwhile, the state weather bureau Pagasa said it was monitoring another storm brewing over the Pacific and heading toward Mindanao.

The tropical depression east of Mindanao has entered the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) on Wednesday afternoon and was locally code-named Onyok.

Pagasa said that the tropical depression entered the country around 1:45 p.m.
Onyok was tracked at 830 kilometers east of Mati City in Davao Oriental as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.

It has maximum sustained winds of 45 kilometers per hour (kph).

Onyok’s forecast movement is at west northwest at 20 kph.

The tropical depression is expected to move west toward the eastern section of Mindanao, then make landfall over Caraga by Friday afternoon.

The state weather bureau assured the public that two weather disturbances will not affect each other as they are far away from each other and also do not have the same strength.

Nona, which was downgraded from a Typhoon to Severe Tropical Storm, was located 70 kilometers southwest of Subic (Zambales) as of 4 p.m.

It is expected to be 235 kilometers west of Calapan City by Thursday afternoon and 225 km west northwest of Puerto Princesa City (Palawan) on Friday afternoon.

The typhoon is expected to leave PAR as a low pressure area (LPA) on Saturday.

Public Storm Warning Signal Number 2 is still up in Bataan, southern Zambales, Cavite, Batangas and Lubang island while Metro Manila, the rest of Zambales, Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac, Rizal, Laguna, northern Occidental Mindoro and northern Oriental Mindoro are under Signal Number 1.

Flashfloods and landslides are expected over the areas under Public Storm Warning Signals.

Airports reopen
Airports that were shut down by Nona have resumed operations, except for the heavily-damaged Catarman airport in Northern Samar, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) reported also on Wednesday.

“The Catarman airport terminal building is still not in commercial operations due to a collapsed ceiling when Typhoon Nona hit the area on Monday,” CAAP said.

Its runway and flight service station, however, are already usable although only backed by power generator sets, with power and communication lines still down in the area, Area Center VIII Manager Danilo Abareta said.

The other airports in Biliran, Borongan, Calbayog, Catarman, Catbalogan, Guiuan, Hilongos, Maasin, Ormoc and Tacloban sustained minor damage and are now open.

The airports in Bulan, Daet, Legazpi, Masbate, Naga, Sorsogon and Virac have also resumed operations.

“San Jose, Mamburao, Romblon, Lubang and Calapan airports in Mindoro sustained only minimal damages and are now back in operation,” CAAP said.

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