LEGAZPI CITY: Christmas day will be sad and wet for hundreds of thousands of families whose homes lie in the path of powerful typhoon Nina which is expected to pound the Bicol region today.
Authorities urged hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate their homes on Saturday as typhoon Nina (international name Nock-Ten) bore down on Catanduanes.
Nina is expected to be packing winds of 222 kilometers per hour when it makes landfall on the island of
250,000 people on Sunday. It is then expected to hit the main island of Luzon, including the capital Manila, on Monday.
“We issued an advisory to local government units this morning to conduct preemptive evacuations,” Rachel Miranda, spokeswoman for the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in the Bicol region, said.
The weather bureau warned of potentially deadly two-meter waves along the east coast, as well as landslides and flash floods from heavy rains.
Cedric Daep, civil defense chief for Albay, said at least 400,000 people needed to be evacuated.
“Our evacuation centers will not be able to accommodate all of them,” he said. Others were being asked to stay with relatives or friends.
“We are requesting vehicle support” from other government agencies to move people to safety, Daep added.
The typhoon stranded thousands of passengers as it churned closer to Luzon.
Television footage on Saturday showed long lines of trucks, cars and vehicles stranded at Bicol ports after the coastguard shut down ferry crossings to nearby islands as a precaution.
The action prevented thousands of people from returning to their hometowns for the Christmas weekend, it said.
Close to 4,000 people bound for Visayas and Mindanao were stuck in various seaports after the Philippines Port Authority (PPA) grounded all sea vessels.
Bernardo Rafaelito Alejandro, Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council chairman in Bicol, said 3,641 passengers were stranded in various seaports after the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical and Services Administration (Pagasa) raised typhoon signals.
Since yesterday, more than 3,000 passengers were stuck in Matnog port in Sorsogon province.
Cebu Pacific also cancelled flights to and from Manila because of the typhoon.
Pagasa said the typhoon, which has a diameter of about 400 kilometers, will affect the towns of Baras, Bato, Virac, Partido Area and Tiwi and Polangui in Albay.
Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara ordered officials on Saturday to evacuate families living in flood prone areas.
The police have been asked to provide security and ensure order in evacuation centers.
Relief assistance, including food, will be distributed to evacuees including those who will seek shelter in private homes.
The province of Bulacan is also bracing for the typhoon.
Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado ordered the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) to put all emergency responders in the 21 towns and three cities on a 24-hour alert.
Alvarado directed PDRRM executive officer Liz Mungcal to deploy on Christmas day emergency rescue teams along flood prone areas and prepare evacuation centers.
The governor said the province’s three major dams — Angat, Ipo and Bustos – are being monitored. Angat reached its spilling level of 212 meters on December 20.
Typhoon Nina intensified further but slightly slowed down at 15 kph as it headed west northwest.
As of Saturday afternoon, Nina was spotted 480 kilometers east of Virac, Catanduanes with maximum sustained winds of up to 150 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 185 kph.
Estimated rainfall amount is from moderate to heavy.
Southern Quezon, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate, including Ticao and Burias islands, and Samar were placed under typhoon signal warning number 1.
If the typhoon further intensifies, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) may close runways, officials said.
Aviation officials on Saturday urged airlines to inform their passengers on the status of their flights as the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) laid down preparations for the typhoon.
CAAP director general Jim Sydiongco said with the expected path of the typhoon, Clark as not an option for relocation or diversion.
“Airports down south like Cebu and Puerto Princesa can serve as evacuation sites for aircraft,” Sydiongco said.
The MIAA said if runways are closed, daily runway maintenance work will be suspended to give way to recovery flights.