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Emong's death toll rises to 27; several missing

May 8, 2009 8:46pm
MANILA, Philippines – As it moved further away from the Philippines Friday night, Typhoon Emong further weakened after dumping heavy rains, uprooting trees and leaving at least 26 people dead, officials said Friday.

In its 5 p.m. advisory, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) lifted all storm alerts as Emong moved further away from the country and was spotted 360 kilometers east of Tuguegarao City in Cagayan at 2 p.m.

Pagasa downgraded Emong’s category to a tropical depression as its moved farther away into the Pacific Ocean with greatly reduced maximum sustained winds of 55 kph.

Preliminary reports reaching the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) offices in the regions listed a total of 11 landslides: four in Central Luzon and seven in the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR).

Landslides in the province of Ifugao claimed the lives of 11 people in the towns of Kiangan and Hungyon, the local police said. Eight others were injured, while three went missing.

Some of the fatalities were identified as Ayra Daang, Marife Daang, Vency Daang, Olivia Guay, Rosita Tinoi, Mr. Tinoi, Mr. Guay, Mercy Guay, and Marcos Ofo-ob.

In Zambales, 53-year-old Jeremy Ambalisa of Santa Cruz town died of a heart attack. Emong also killed two residents in La Union (Benedicto Fortes) and Bataan (Asley Mosalina).

In Pangasinan, GMA reporter Carlo Lorenzo quoted the provincial police as saying that 12 people have so far been killed, including Veronica dela Cruz, 84, who died after hitting her head on the pavement. In Bani town, Rodolfo Balmonte was killed in his home when their roof collapsed.

In Nueva Vizcaya, 45-year-old Merlyn Antonio was killed after being swept by strong current while crossing the Atbu River in Santa Fe town at about 8 a.m., police said.

Chief Superintendent Roberto Damian, police director for the Cagayan Valley Region, said the body of the woman was later recovered and returned to her family.

“Kung kailan natapos ang pag-ulan tsaka naman tayo nagkaroon ng isang casualty [Just when the rains had stopped, we suffered our first casualty in Nueva Vizcaya]," Damian lamented.

Way up north in Tuguegarao City in Cagayan province, three people – including two children – went missing after the boat they were on board was carried away by strong currents of the Matalag River in Gagabuatan village of Rizal town.

The missing persons were identified as Carmen Anguluan, 45; Macmac Anguluan, 7; and McDave Calibuso, 5.

In Bataan, at least three remained missing, including one in Bagong Silang village in Balanga City, officials said.

Damage

Reports reaching NDCC offices said more than 4,000 people from 923 families were affected in 23 villages in La Union, Pangasinan, and Zambales.

Two houses were completely destroyed in Anda town in Pangasinan and five others were partially damaged in San Fernando town in La Union.

Emong also ravaged P863,528 worth of crops in 55 hectares of land in Zambales, and P4.4-million-worth of transmission lines in Pangasinan.

Officials said that the heavy downpour spawned by Emong has also caused Magat Dam at the boundary of Ifugao and Isabela provinces to overflow, prompting authorities to release water

“Water continues to be slowly released and areas along the riverbanks are expected to get flooded," Chief Supt. Damian said.

In Bagabag town in Nueva Vizcaya, one span of the Lanog Bridge – which links Nueva Vizcaya and Ifugao – had been rendered impassable to all types of vehicle after it collapsed.

“The Department of Public Works and Highways had begun repairing the bridge," Damian said.

Electric power was cut in Dagupan City and in Lingayen town in Pangasinan, which was in the direct path of Emong Thursday night. Power was restored in Dagupan early Friday.

More than 20 families were evacuated from Bolinao town in Pangasinan as of Thursday night, when Emong first made landfall.

In Nueva Vizcaya, families had to be evacuated from their homes in the towns of Bambang and Bayombong, where a footbridge collapsed due to a swollen river. No one was hurt.

In Iloilo province in the Visayas, a passenger vessel ran aground amid strong winds and big waves but the coast guard rescued all 80 people aboard, Radio DZBB reported.

Another 1,000 passengers and 71 vessels were stranded in ports because of the storm, which forecasters said was moving east of the Philippines toward southernJapan.

Not much was reported as a result of Emong in Cagayan province. Director Melchito Castro of the Office of the Civil Defense said all roads were already passable. Authorities however remain on the alert for families who might be needing assistance.

Damage reports

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, chair of the NDCC, was quoted over radio dzBB directing Office of Civil Defense units in affected provinces to immediately submit their damage reports.

Teodoro said they should get a hold of these reports as these would be used by the national government to determine which areas should be “prioritized" in distributing relief assistance.

He said he was leaving to local government officials the decision to declare a state of calamity on their respective turfs.

Emong, which entered the Philippine area of responsibility from the South China Sea on Wednesday, strengthened into a typhoon with center winds of up to 150 kilometers per hour as it slammed into Pangasinan Thursday night at 7 p.m., according to Pagasa.

Moving east-northeastward, Emong swept into the mountain provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Apayao before exiting through Cagayan province into the Philippine Sea. - with Floro Taguinod, GMANews.TV