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With maximum sustained winds that reached 185 kph, Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) is the strongest storm to hit Mindanao in two decades, PAGASA said Tuesday.
“Base sa nakalap naming data, ang Typhoon Pablo ang pinakamalakas (na tumama sa Mindanao),” state weather forecaster Jori Loiz told GMA News Online. “Hindi pa namin naa-assess 'yung mga sumusunod sa lakas.”
He noted that very few tropical cyclones hit Mindanao, which is not in the usual path of storms, in one year.
“Not comparable si Sendong dahil tropical storm lang siya,” he added.
'Sendong,' considered one of the deadliest cyclones to enter the country in 12 years, battered northern Mindanao in December last year, leaving 1,257 people dead and P1.6 billion damage in agriculture and properties.
Loiz said the bureau is studying the strength and direction of 'Pablo.' “Subject for further research is Pablo. Very unusual si Pablo sa formation. Inaalam namin kung bakit nagform at nag-intensify siya below five degrees latitude. Tinitingnan din namin kung ano ang nag-sustain sa kanya kasi nag-stationary then moved westward,” Loiz said.
He said a cyclone as strong as 'Pablo' could uproot trees and destroy houses made of light materials.
PAGASA earlier said Typhoon Pablo may bring heavy to intense rainfall of 15 to 30 mm per hour within its 600-km diameter.
'Pablo' made landfall in Davao Oriental before 5 a.m. Tuesday with maximum sustained winds of 175 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 210 kph. Early warning
Despite the typhoon's intensity, however, Loiz expects fewer fatalities and damage to property from 'Pablo' than from Sendong.
“Kaya malaki ang pinsala noon e hindi handa ang tao, hindi aware. Isa pa, gabi tumama si Sendong, tulog ang mga tao nung biglang tumaas ang tubig,” he said.
“Ngayon, nag-warning kami one week before pa. Handa na ang mga tao. Isa pa, kung tatama siya sa Cagayan River, wala na halos mga bahay dun,” Loiz added.
At least 7,011 residents or 1,303 families from Regions 10, 11 and 13 were evacuated hours before Pablo made landfall. Forced evacuations were also carried out in Lingig and Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur late Monday.
Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said at least two residents in Mindanao were reported to have died in the wake of typhoon Pablo.
NDRRMC head Benito Ramos said they received reports that the latest fatality was killed after getting crushed by a falling tree.
"May nakamotor, nadaganan ng kahoy habang nakamotor sa kalsada (sa) Misamis Oriental," he said in an interview on dzBB radio.
Ramos said initial reports reaching him identified the fatality as Jigger Gumunit, 30.
Meanwhile, a 50-year-old woman in Manay town in Davao Oriental was killed after a coconut tree fell on her.
Ramos said a landslide was reported in New Bataan in Compostela Valley, but there was no report of casualties so far.
Large parts of Davao Oriental and Surigao del Sur were still without power Tuesday afternoon while in Cagayan de Oro City, the power outage caused by Typhoon Pablo prompted residents to flock to hotels.
Authorities could not say when power would be restored in Cagayan de Oro, radio dzBB reported. Some malls in the city were open but had few visitors for the day, the report added.
Power was knocked out in parts of Mindanao on Monday night, and in other parts of the island before dawn Tuesday.
Loiz said Pablo is expected to be outside the Philippine area of responsibility by Friday, as it continued to sweep across northern Mindanao and the Visayas at a slower pace.
“Bumagal siya. Kanina 20 kph na lang kaya made-delay ang paglabas pero 'yun ay kung hindi magbabago ang kanyang bilis at direksyon,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Pablo was moving at 26 kph and was expected to be 180 km southwest of Roxas City by Wednesday morning.
Loiz said rain is expected in Metro Manila by Wednesday evening due to 'Pablo.' —KG/RSJ/YA, GMA News