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Slow-moving Lando causes widespread damage in Luzon

Slow-moving tropical cyclone Lando caused widespread damage with strong winds and intense rains over Luzon, killing at least six persons and affecting almost 300,000 persons in six regions.

The province of Nueva Ecija and parts of Isabela and Pangasinan also declared a state of calamity in their respective areas.

The Office of Civil Defense in Central Luzon reported an initial damage to agriculture of P4.65 billion in the provinces of Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Tarlac.

President Benigno Aquino III went to Nueva Ecija to distribute relief goods at Nueva Ecija National High School in Cabanatuan City on Monday.

He said that the effects of the typhoon will be felt for about three days more. Moreover, rainwater will likely to start to come down from higher ground.

"The challenge with a lot of our countrymen ‎is that, they don't seem to see the amount of rain that is pouring. They think it is safe already to go back to their communities but we are preventing them right now because the expectations from tonight and after tomorrow," Aquino added.

"A lot of this rainfall that fell on the northern portion of Luzon will be coming down and will be affecting all of these barangays near the major river systems."

According to PAGASA's 5 p.m. weather bulletin on Monday, Lando has weakened from a typhoon to a tropical storm as it moves on the coastline of the Ilocos region.

Still, state forecasters warned of heavy to intense rain within the 600-kilometer diameter of the severe tropical storm.

Fishermen were advised not to venture out over the seaboards of Luzon and the Visayas.

PAGASA also warned of storm surges of up to two meters high in provinces affected by Lando.

At least six deaths

NDRRMC spokeswoman Romina Marasigan said the agency has three confirmed deaths as of yesterday afternoon.

Marasigan said the latest fatality to be reported was Fernando Laso Gumbad, 57, who was buried by a landslide in Bakun town in Benguet last Sunday.

The two other fatalities reported were from Quezon City and Subic, Zambales, who were pinned down by a fallen tree and collapsed wall, respectively.

Office of Civil Defense-Central Luzon deputy administrator Nigel Lontoc reported a total of four deaths in the region alone, including the fatality from Subic, Zambales that was already validated by the NDRRMC.

The three additional fatalities accounted by the OCD-Central Luzon were drowning victims Pedro Tuares, 65, and Mario Abesamis, 58, both of Gen. Tinio, Nueva Ecija; and Violeta Magbalot, 57, of Moncada, Tarlac who was electrocuted.

Marasigan said the number of injured remained at five. She reported one person missing—Ryan Biglay of Tineg town in Abra who was swept away by strong currents in Tineg river in barangay Caganayan in Tineg town.

More than 58,000 families

Marasigan said 58,476 families or 283,486 persons were affected in Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Bicol and Cordillera Administrative regions.

Of the number, she said 15,354 families or 69,747 persons are housed in 370 evacuation centers.

Lontoc said the bulk of the damage to more than P4 billion worth of damage to agriculture in Central Luzon was incurred by Nueva Ecija, which already registered P3.54  billion worth of damage.

He said 3,835 houses were either destroyed or damaged in Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Tarlac.

Lontoc said 84 areas in the region were flooded by Lando, though some of them have already subsided as of yesterday afternoon.



State of calamity

The province of Nueva Ecija, Ilagan City in Isabela, and San Carlos City in Pangasinan, have declared a state of calamity in their respective areas.

Under the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, a state of calamity is "a condition involving mass casualty and/or major damages to property, disruption of means of livelihoods, roads, and normal way of life of people in the affected areas as a result of the occurrence of natural or human-induced hazard."

During a state of calamity, local government units may also enact a supplemental budget for supplies and materials or payment of services to prevent danger to or loss of life or property.

LGUs are also expected to monitor, prevent, and control overpricing/profiteering and hoarding of prime commodities, medicines, and petroleum products.

Many residents were also trapped on their rooftops. Lontoc said that thousands of may be stranded in flooded villages.

He also told GMA News Online that the floods are hampering rescue operations in Cabanatuan City.

Aside from Cabanatuan City, rescue operations are also ongoing in the municipalities of Jaen and Cabiao. They are also monitoring the municipality of Gabaldon.

No heavy rain but still flooded

Pampanga didn't experience heavy rain but also had flooding particularly in Candaba.

GMA News reported that up to 24 barangays were flooded in the municipality.

Candaba Mayor Rene Maglanque said the waters came from Aurora, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan.

Among the barangays that were flooded include those around the Pampanga River and the Candaba swamp.

Cagayan province is also bearing the brunt of the tropical cyclone, with 15 of its 28 towns flooded, according to the Provincial Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council.

"Kami ang may pinakamaraming municipalities na lubog sa baha," said Cagayan PDRRMC officer Bon Cuartero.
Authorities had earlier conducted operations to evacuate homes near the Cagayan River.
But because of runoff water caused by heavy rains brought on by Lando over the Sierra Madre mountains, even places that usually did not flood became inundated.

In Cabanatuan, Mayor Jay Vergara said almost 91 percent of the city was affected by floods.

In a radio interview, Vergara blamed the unprecedented flooding to massive deforestation in the Sierra Madre mountains.

He said there was an adequate number of vehicles for rescue and rehabilitation but some barangays were isolated due to the floods.

Preemptive release

The National Power Corp. on Monday afternoon warned communities near the Agno River to be ready as it releases water from the San Roque Dam

The San Roque Flood Forecasting and Warning System Dam Office will start releasing water from the San Roque Dam in San Manuel, Pangasinan starting at 6 p.m. on Monday.

The office, which is under the supervision of the National Power Corp., advised communities near the Agno River to take the necessary precautions. Dam management will open its Gate 1A by half a meter and release 340 cubic meters per second of water.

"Bagamat maliit pa lang ang tubig na pakakawalan, pinapaalalahanan po ang lahat ng mga residente sa mga barangay malapit sa Ilog Agno na magsagawa ng mga kaukulang paghahanda," Napocor president Gladys Sta. Rita said in a statement.

Lui Belmonte, head of corporate communications of Napocor, said Agno River cuts through the towns of San Manuel, San Nicolas, Sta. Maria, Tayug, Asingan, Rosales and Villasis.

Belmonte said water from the dam will unlikely cause flooding because of the gradual release.

Lontoc said that while the dam was beyond their area of responsibility, its waters could also affect areas in Tarlac.

San Roque Dam is connected to Tarlac River through Agno River.  —NB/JST, GMA News