TYPHOON Lawin slammed into Northern Luzon leaving a path of destruction, toppling power and communication lines in many areas of the region and killing at least seven, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said yesterday.
NDRRMC executive director Ricard Jalad asked the Philippine National Police to validate reports about the deaths: four in Cordillera, two in Cagayan Valley and one in Ilocos-Pangasinan region.
The NDRRMC said that local authorities conducted preemptive evacuation on nearly 91,000 persons living in Northern and Southern Luzon and the Bicol region to ensure their safety.
In Ifugao, which was heavily-ravaged by torrential rains, Gov. Pedro Mayam-O told a radio interview that two young woodcarvers were killed in a landslide that hit the mountainous part of Hungduan municipality. At least 230 families were also forced to go to government-run evacuation centers in the province, where power has been cut as a result of downed electric lines.
The governor said that the bodies of the two minors have been recovered even as police and disaster response officials continued their search for a companion of the victims who went missing.
The victims were working in a wood-carving shop, which was buried under tons of rocks and soil that cascaded from the mountain down on the shop.
Two national roads in Apayao were also shut down to traffic as Public Works engineers rushed in to bring heavy equipment needed to clear the road of debris.
In La Trinidad, Benguet, two men identified as Edgar Gensi and Johnny Borja were killed in a landslide, which hit a residential area near a local public elementary school, said Gov. Cris Pacalso.
Benguet also experienced heavy rains, which forced the evacuation of many families. Pacalso said that the movement of aid workers was hampered by different hazards such as landslides and fallen trees.
A power blackout also hit Baguio City and triggered the evacuation of more than 200 families to safer areas. Landslides forced the closure of Kennon Road to all types of motor vehicles.
Abra province was also hit by a power blackout and communications are down. Some 200 families living near the Abra river were also evacuated to a safer ground.
PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa has mobilized all available manpower and resources in the affected regions to help in the search, rescue, relief and rehabilitation program of the government.
Police and Armed Forces personnel also helped government engineers and workers clear roads of fallen trees and debris, said Cordillera Police Regional Office director Chief Supt. Elmo Francis Sarona.
On Wednesday, the PNP said all resources and personnel were rushed to Northern the Luzon to augment local PNP units for possible disaster response.
The PNP high command also activated its National Headquarters Disaster Incident Management Task Group (DIMTG), an updated and enhanced plan of action of the PNP on disaster preparedness and response management in support to other concerned agencies.
Disaster response troops, equipment and supplies have been prepositioned to disaster-prone areas threatened by “Lawin,” said PNP Directorate for Police-Community Relations head Director Wilfredo Franco, also the chairman of the Sub-Committee on Disaster Management.
The NHQ-DIMTG supports the government’s disaster risk reduction and management efforts in accordance with the PNP Critical Incident Management Operational Procedures (CIMOP).
These disaster response-capable units include the PNP Special Action Force, Maritime Group, Highway Patrol Group, Police-Community Relations Group as well as the Regional Public Safety Battalions.
Police Regional Office 2 director Chief Supt. Gilbert Sosa said 753 disaster-trained personnel have been mobilized to help affected residents of Cagayan Valley. Sosa had assured that they are equipped with rubber boats, life vests, portable generators, rappelling equipment, chainsaws and other search, rescue and retrieval operations equipment before “Lawin” struck.
SEVERAL flights yesterday were cancelled due to strong wind and heavy rains brought by super typhoon “Lawin.”
The Manila International Airport Authority said “Lawin” affected the Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Airlines’ flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.
According to PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna, as of 12:30 a.m. yesterday, they cancelled the following trip: Flights PR2014 Manila-Tuguegarao; PR2015 Tuguegarao-Manila; PR2084 Manila-Basco; PR2085 Basco-Manila; PR2196 Manila-Laoag and PR2197 Laoag-Manila.
Cancelled Cebu Pacific trips include the 5J196/197 Manila-Cauayan; 5J504/505 Manila-Tuguegarao-Manila and 5J506/507 Manila-Tuguegarao-Manila.
MIAA general manager Eddie Monreal said affected passengers were advised to get in touch with their respective airline companies and the NAIA Hotline 877-1111.