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1,576 Albay families evacuated as rains fall over Bicol again

Some 1,576 families or 8,200 people were forcibly evacuated in Albay province as a cold front that triggered heavy rains that had killed at least 25 people and affected more than 460,000 across the country moved towards Bicol Thursday. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said provincial disaster management officials in Albay conducted a preemptive evacuation in landslide-prone villages in five towns in the province. “The cold front moved up again towards Eastern Samar. The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration [PAGASA] said this will affect areas in Bicol such as Sorsogon, Albay and Masbate, and Ticao and Burias Islands. On Wednesday, Albay Governor Jose Salceda conducted a forced evacuation of critical areas in Albay," NDRRMC executive officer Benito Ramos said in Filipino in an interview on dwIZ. Meanwhile, President Benigno Aquino III asked Filipinos to pray for those affected by the floods and landslides. “Let us pray for the victims of tragedies, floods and landslides. Thank you very much," Aquino said in his Twitter account. According to Ramos, areas near restive Mayon Volcano were also evacuated due to the threat of the rains loosening lahar and volcanic debris. On the other hand, he said the northward movement of the cold front has caused the weather in Northeast Mindanao to improve. Evacuated were 1,576 families or 8,200 people from “critical barangays" prone to landslides in Sto. Domingo, Manito, Guinobatan, Bacacay and Malilipot towns, the NDRRMC said in its 6 a.m. Thursday update. The evacuation appeared to pay off as a report on dzRH radio said heavy rains started falling anew over Albay province in Bicol early Thursday. Ramos said the Office of the Civil Defense and Armed Forces of the Philippines in Bicol are working together to help the affected residents cope with the situation. 467,916 people affected As of 6 a.m. Thursday, the NDRRMC said floods and landslides caused by the heavy rains had affected 92,075 families or 467,916 people in 586 villages in 86 towns and seven cities of 20 provinces. Of these, 3,786 families or 18,447 people are staying in 84 evacuation centers. The NDRRMC noted an increase of 11,519 or 29.82 percent on the number of affected families. It said that of those affected, CARAGA had the highest population followed by Bicol and Eastern Visayas. At least 88 houses were destroyed and 120 damaged. The death toll remained at 25 as of Thursday morning, the NDRRMC said. Meanwhile, to PAGASA said northeast monsoon is affecting North and Central Luzon, while the tail-end of a cold front is affecting Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. “Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao will experience cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms becoming widespread rains over Bicol Region and Eastern Visayas which may trigger flashfloods and landslides. The rest of Luzon will be partly cloudy to cloudy with light rains," it said in its 5 a.m. bulletin. Moderate to strong winds blowing from the Northeast will prevail over Luzon, Visayas and Eastern Mindanao and the coastal waters along these areas will be moderate to rough. Elsewhere, winds will be light to moderate coming from the Northeast with slight to moderate seas. Strong to gale force winds are also expected to affect the seaboards of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, PAGASA added. — LBG, GMANews.TV