Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tornado - Philippine (Manila) MAY

MANILA, MAY 20, 2008 (STAR) By Eva Visperas - Strong winds and heavy rains brought by storm “Cosme” killed 21 people and injured nine others as it slammed Northern Luzon last Saturday, the Provincial Disaster Coordination Councils (PDCCs) in the affected areas reported yesterday.

Weather forecasters said Cosme was expected to be 640 kilometers east of Okinawa, Japan this morning.

The storm destroyed at least 3,000 houses, mostly in Pangasinan where Cosme made landfall last Saturday with winds of 105 kilometers per hour.

Strong winds uprooted trees and knocked down electrical poles, causing power outages and cutting telephone lines. Damage to infrastructure and agriculture was expected to be extensive.

Disaster officials reported that 12 residents were killed in Pangasinan, four in La Union, one each in Benguet and Zambales, one in Antique and two in Negros Occidental.

Local officials have also declared Pangasinan, La Union and Zambales under a state of calamity.

Retired police Superintendent Paterno Orduña, executive officer of the PDCC of Pangasinan, identified the fatalities in the province as Lourdes Soriano, 72, of Poblacion in Bugallon town who was hit by a galvanized iron sheet; Cesar Basi, 50, of Barangay Portic in Bugallon who was hit by a falling coconut tree; George Pascua of Bolasi in San Fabian who was hit by a falling mango tree; Miguel Poserio, 2, his brothers Randyl, 3, and Rodyl, 4, all drowned in the Tanap River in Bonuan in Dagupan City; Carlito Maganes of Salay, Mangaldan who was electrocuted; Elpidio Maoile of Infanta town who was hit by falling debris; Nicadio Ferrer, 65, of Lingayen whose house was destroyed; Mario Quinto of Urdaneta City who was also hit by falling debris; Remedios Paulo, 72, of Barangay Bolaoen, Bugallon; and Rogelio Austria, hit by a falling mango tree branch in San Carlos City.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) also reported that three people were killed in Western Visayas and another fatality was reported in Central Luzon.

A still unidentified villager was recovered from a hut buried by landslide in Itogon, Benguet, but the victim died on the way to a local hospital.

In La Union, among the fatalities were Leopoldo Labasan, who drowned near the shore of Barangay Bani in Rosario town; Juanita Icerio and Domingo Ubongen, killed when they were hit by falling debris in Rosario town; and Pepito Estacio of Raois, Sto. Tomas town.

Orduña said most of the houses that were destroyed were in Infanta, Bugallon, Aguilar, and Lingayen in Pangasinan.

The Pangasinan provincial board declared a state of calamity in the province.

Pangasinan Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan told The STAR that Cosme was not an ordinary typhoon but a tornado.

He said that that kind of storm was never experienced before in Pangasinan and was even deadlier than typhoon “Gading” in 1998 that also devastated the province.

Baraan also lamented that the weather bureau raised only typhoon signal number 3 over the area, but there was no warning on the magnitude or strength of the storm.

La Union Gov. Manuel Ortega declared yesterday a state of calamity in the province where initial estimate of damage to crops and property was placed at P500 million.

Ranilo Ipac, La Union’s social welfare officer and head of the secretariat of the PDCC, said at least 400 houses were destroyed while 1,392 are partially damaged and 3,607 families affected.

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro visited the disaster areas last Sunday to assess the situation and brought an initial 100 sacks of rice for the victims.

Meanwhile, three inmates escaped from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) detention center in Dagupan City at the height of the typhoon, after the detainees started riots while the escapees bored holes in the walls of their cell. One of the escaped prisoners was later recaptured.

BJMP Director Rosendo Dial also reported that heavy rains caused a mud slide that damaged a portion of the Ormoc City Jail in Leyte.

Ormoc jail officials were able to secure the 208 inmates and no one escaped.

In Sta. Cruz, Zambales, at least 2,300 houses were destroyed and 4,230 others were partially damaged.

Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso’s executive assistant Rene Totol said that other parts of Zambales were also affected by the storm, and 70 to 80 percent of agricultural crops, including trees, were also destroyed in Sta. Cruz.

“The trees, including many mango trees which abound in the town, were either felled or uprooted,” he said.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap assured the people that the typhoon caused minor damage to agricultural products, particularly rice crops.

Disaster officials said damage to crops was initially estimated at P168 million.

“The area affected is minimal,” Yap told the weekly Kapihan sa Manila Hotel media forum, adding rains brought by the storm were good for rice fields.

“I’m still waiting for the report from the regional director but based on the preliminary report I got from the DA, the impact is not that substantial,” he said.

Yap said the storm did not affect the country’s rice production for this year.

He said the public has sufficient stockpiles of rice, with the 10-percent gap between supply and demand already taken care of by the contracted imports of the National Food Authority totaling 1.7 million metric tons (MT).

The NFA imports are equivalent to a buffer stock level of 32 days at the current daily consumption average of 33,000 MT, he said.

The additional tenders this month are only meant to let the NFA maintain a 30-day buffer stock or double the normal buffer stock of 15 days’ supply during the traditional lean months of July to September prior to the main harvest season and for the remainder of the year, Yap said.

He earlier said that on top of the contracted import volumes, the DA is also expecting the summer harvest to surpass seven million MT, which is higher than last year’s dry crop yield of 6.7 million MT.

Palay harvests have already reached 5.89 million MT as of May 5, which is near the projected 7.1 million MT target for the dry cropping season. – With James Mananghaya, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Marianne Go, Jun Elias, Ding Cervantes, - Source

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