Typhoon Megi ("Juan"), World's Strongest This Year, Weakening in Philippines

Typhoon Megi ("Juan"), World's Strongest This Year, Weakening in Philippines

Story tools

A A AResize

Print

 
BAGUIO CITY, PHILIPPINES —Super-typhoon “Juan” (international codename: Megi) roared through Isabela on Monday, flattening banana plantations, uprooting trees, toppling power lines and forcing the evacuation of more than 3,000 people in the province and nearby Cagayan.

At least four people were reported killed in the typhoon’s path.

“We are marooned inside our home. We cannot go out. The winds and rain are very strong. Many trees are being uprooted or snapped in half,” Ernesto Macadangdang, a resident of Burgos town, Isabela, told dzBB radio.

Packing sustained winds of 225 kilometers per hour and gusts of 260 kph, Juan made landfall in Sierra Madre’s Estagno Point in Isabela at 11:25 a.m.

Weather bureau officials said Juan was the world’s strongest typhoon this year. It is also the strongest storm to hit the Philippines since Super-typhoon “Reming” struck the Bicol region in 2006.

A man who drowned in Cagayan River in Tuguegarao City has been confirmed to be the first fatality of the super-typhoon.

A woman in Rizal, Kalinga, was killed when a tamarind tree, blown by strong winds, crashed down on her house.

She was instantly killed while her child was injured, Benito Ramos, the executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said Monday night.

In Baguio City, a forest guard at the Busol watershed, Andres Realina, died after a tree fell on the guard house where he was staying, the Office of Civil Defense said.

In Pangasinan, a farmer was killed when he was struck by lightning in Mangatarem town on Monday morning, said the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

With electric posts toppled, Isabela is experiencing a province-wide power outage. Cagayan, Kalinga, Apayao and Ilocos Sur also suffered outages as of 4 p.m. on Monday as Juan damaged the transmission facilities in these areas, according to National Grid Corp. of the Philippines.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the cyclone was so powerful that it reached typhoon category while still in the open sea.

It slowed down slightly to 19 kph from Sunday night’s 20 kph.

“We want Juan to speed up for less opportunity and time to dump rains,” PAGASA officer in charge Graciano Yumul said Monday morning.

About six hours after it made landfall, Juan weakened as it made its way across northern Luzon, PAGASA said. As of 11 p.m., Juan was 90 kilometers west northwest of Baguio City, with sustained winds of 160 kph and gusts of 195 kph.

Nathaniel Servando of PAGASA said he expected the storm to further weaken while on land. The typhoon was expected to leave via Ilocos Sur at midnight Monday.

With the typhoon’s strength subsiding, the weather bureau downgraded public storm warning signals in several provinces early Monday evening.

In a separate news report on Inquirer.net, PAGASA downgraded storm warning signals further Tuesday morning as Typhoon “Juan” (international codename: Megi) continued to move away from the Philippines and towards the South China Sea.

Isabela and Cagayan, which were both earlier placed under Storm Signal No. 4, together with Kalinga, Ifugao and Mountain Province, were the first provinces to feel the fury of Juan.

Local government officials in Isabela placed the province under a state of calamity on Monday to allow officials to use calamity funds.

Rice stockpiles in a warehouse of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Divilacan town got soaked when strong winds blew away the warehouse’s roof.

In Sta. Ana, Cagayan, a woman was reportedly hit by an electric post while a child reportedly sustained minor wounds due to a fallen live wire.

Two women were badly injured inside a Jollibee store in Tanza, Tuguegarao, when a heavy object buffeted by the winds smashed into the store’s glass wall.

A female customer reportedly sustained a broken collarbone while a staff member suffered burns from the boiler.

Landslides

Landslides were reported in various sections of Apayao and Benguet.

The Benguet-Dalupirip Itogon and Nueva Vizcaya-Benguet roads were closed due to landslides, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The Claver-Calanasan Road (Mabanong section) was also closed to traffic due to landslides. Only one lane of the Manila North Road in Barangay Sagayaden in Cabugao was passable.

One lane of the Mt. Province-Calanan Boundary-Calaan Road (Bannagao section and the Dalimono section) was also closed due to landslides, the council said.

Evacuees

Norma Talosig, the director of the Office of Civil Defense in Cagayan Valley, said at least 2,786 people were transferred to evacuation centers in the towns of Gonzaga Sto. Niño, Rizal, Sta. Ana and Aparri in Cagayan, while at least 581 people were staying in evacuation centers in the coastal towns of Divilacan and Dinapigue in Isabela.

More than 51 passengers were stranded at the ports of Aparri and Sta. Ana on Monday.

In the Cordillera Administrative Region, Apayao province was drenched by strong rains even before Juan hit land, triggering landslides at Km 668 of the Claver-Calanasan Road on Monday.

Olive Luces, the director of the Office of Civil Defense in Cordillera, said another erosion destroyed a road leading to Conner town in Apayao.

At noon, communities of Itogon town in Benguet province reported landslides on Km 271 of the Baguio-Nueva Vizcaya Road, and Km 271 of the Itogon-Dalupirip Road.

Both landslides occurred at Barangay Tinongdan but government engineers cleared some of the slides. They warned that driving through these routes was “at their own risk.”

Little Kibungan

Early landslide reports convinced residents living in hazardous terrain to evacuate, Luces said.

In Sitio Little Kibungan in La Trinidad, Benguet, only two families transferred to an evacuation center at Puguis Elementary School despite a Sunday directive issued by Mayor Gregorio Abalos Jr. urging all residents of the landslide-hit village to leave.

More than 70 people died in Little Kibungan in October last year when strong rains and wind of Typhoon “Pepeng” (international codename: Parma) triggered landslides in the area.

Families living in tents at the old Antamok mine site who were displaced by Pepeng were asked to relocate to Cresencio Pacalso High School.

Adelina de Guzman, who was among the five families who complied, said they felt safer at the evacuation site. However, two other families living in the tents refused to leave.

Janet Armas, chief of Cordillera operations of the DSWD, reported the preemptive evacuation in Barangay Coroz in Tublay, Benguet, which was also hit hard by Pepeng.

Kalinga officials also evacuated residents in the villages of Cabaruan and Laya in the capital Tabuk.


Flights canceled

At least 16 domestic flights to six northern Luzon destinations were canceled, said the Manila International Airport Authority, which oversees the operations of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the Manila domestic airport.

Cebu Pacific canceled its Manila-Laoag-Manila and Macau-Laoag-Macau flights at the Laoag International Airport due to the typhoon. Airport manager Ronald Estabillo said Philippine Airlines also canceled its Manila-Laoag-Manila flights.

In La Union, at least 46 families were evacuated from coastal villages in the towns of Bangar and Aringay.

In Pangasinan, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council warned fishermen in coastal areas of Pangasinan not to sail to the South China Sea because of rough seas whipped up by the typhoon.

Dagupan City Mayor Benjamin Lim said in a meeting of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council that they were focused on the city’s eight villages located along the city’s rivers.

He said a big flood in Dagupan can only be expected if San Roque Dam in San Manuel town releases excess water.

But the weather bureau said the water level in San Roque Dam as of 6 a.m. on Monday was 250.64 meters above sea level (masl), still below its spilling level of 280 masl.

Central Luzon Spared

There had been no heavy rainfall or rise in water levels in the Pampanga River along Nueva Ecija, Bulacan and Pampanga as of 1:45 p.m. on Monday, said Armand Taruc, of the Pampanga River Basin Flood Forecasting and Warning System.

About 30 river systems in Central Luzon drain out to the Pampanga River before finally exiting to the Manila Bay.

Water level at the Angat Dam increased to the desired level of 180.68 masl on Monday, said Rodolfo German, manager of the Angat River Hydroelectric Power Plant of National Power Corp.

Reynaldo Puno, operations manager of the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems, said Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija would not release water as its reservoir elevation of 194.53 masl was still below its target level.

“We still need very strong rains to achieve the target level of 211 masl,” he said.

In Zambales, Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. put on standby rescue teams to respond to emergencies.

At the Clark Freeport in Pampanga, two international flights at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport were canceled on Monday.

Victor Jose Luciano, president of the Clark International Airport Corp., said a Cebu Pacific flight to Macau and a Tiger Airways flight to Singapore were canceled due to the typhoon.

Reports from Villamor Visaya Jr., Melvin Gascon, Vincent Cabreza, Cristina Arzadon, Gabriel Cardinoza, Johanna Morden, Frank Cimatu, Juliet Cataluña, Leoncio Balbin Jr. and Elmer Kristian Dauigoy, Inquirer Northern Luzon, and Tonette Orejas, Robert Gonzaga, Anselmo Roque and Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon; Amy R. Remo, Philip Tubeza and Miko Morelos in Manila; and Associated Press and Agence France-Presse