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Pedring’s Peril

Typhoon nears, shuts schools, flights

MANILA, Philippines (AP) – Schools in Metro Manila and several parts of Luzon suspended classes and many local flights were canceled yesterday as the country’s main island braced for heavy rains and winds brought by fast-moving Typhoon “Pedring” (international name: Nesat).

Forecasters said Pedring would make landfall in Aurora province in the next 24 hours and cross Luzon with winds of up to 215 kilometers per hour.

Heavy downpours and wind on Monday prompted the government to shut schools in Manila while airlines canceled flights to central and eastern parts of the country.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) also grounded inter-island ferries, stranding hundreds of travelers.

The typhoon bore down on the country exactly two years after nearly 500 people died in the worst flooding in decades in Metro Manila.

Philippine Atmospheric , Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration’s (PAGASA) Weather Division Chief Robert Sawi said Pedring slightly changed direction but moved faster yesterday and was expected that the center of the typhoon would hit Casiguran, Aurora around 8 a.m. today.

As of yesterday morning, Pedring was located 350 kilometers (kms.) east-southeast of Casiguran with maximum sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 150 kph.

At least 39 areas in Luzon and one in Visayas were placed under storm signals 1 and 2 as Pedring neared the landmass of Central Luzon.

Signal No. 2 was hoisted over Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Albay, Burias Island, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Quezon, Polillo Island, Aurora, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, Ifugao, and Cagayan.

Areas under Signal No. 1 were Metro Manila, Masbate, Ticao Island, Marinduque, Batangas, Laguna, Rizal, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Bataan, Zambales, Pangasinan, La Union, Benguet, Mt. Province, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Abra, Kalinga, Apayao, Calayan, Babuyan Group of Islands, and Northern Samar.

“More areas were placed under public storm warning signals due to the expected approach of the typhoon,” Sawi said.

He pointed out that a “lull” from rains about two to three hours was expected yesterday afternoon but warned that heavy rains would “reactivate” by night.

PAGASA Administrator Dr. Nathaniel Servando said Pedring was expected to keep moving toward the West Philippine Sea because there was no other weather system that would affect its movement.

“Expect that the weather condition will worsen in the next 24 hours. Strong winds and heavy rains could prevail over areas with storm warning signals. About 15 to 25 millimeter per hour of rains is expected in Luzon, which is considered heavy rains. Rains could be felt until Tuesday as the typhoon traverses Northern Luzon,” Sawi explained.

“By Tuesday morning, Metro Manila and parts of Southern Luzon will experience heavy rains due to the southwest monsoon. Pedring will be over La Union-Benguet provinces by Tuesday evening,” he added.

PAGASA Supervising Undersecretary Dr. Graciano Yumul advised the public to prepare for the effects of the typhoon because “although Pedring will affect the Luzon area, there is still a southwest monsoon component in the Visayas and Mindanao”. (With a report from Ellalyn B. de Vera)

The Department of Education (DepEd) announced the suspension of all afternoon classes in kinder, elementary and high school levels in Metro Manila starting at noon yesterday.

DepEd said that suspension of classes covered private and public schools. Through its official Twitter account, DepEd_PH, DepEd clarified that only classes in National Capital Region (NCR) schools were suspended.

“No announcement of class suspension from other regions yet except for those under typhoon signals,” DepEd said.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) – following the country’s disaster reduction guidelines – reiterated that “it does not declare the suspension of classes for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)”.

The policy and protocol observed by CHED is: Automatic suspension of classes in higher education with storm Signal Number 3 as per advisory of the PAGASA, otherwise the decision whether or not to suspend classes in the tertiary level was left to school heads or local governments. (Ina Hernando- Malipot)

Thirty-four domestic flights were cancelled yesterday.

As of noon yesterday, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Media Affairs Division recorded 34 cancelled flights as the airline managements deemed it was risky to fly to destinations affected by Pedring.

Philippine Airlines was forced to cancel flights PR277 and PR278 which is a turnaround service between Manila and Legaspi City.

Air Philippines cancelled a total of eight flight services between Manila and Masbate, Naga and Legaspi.

At the same time, Cebu Pacific (CEB) cancelled a total of 18 flights between Manila and Naga, Legaspi, Virac and Calbayog.

Zest Air, on the other hand, cancelled six flights between Manila and Masbate, Virac and Legaspi City.

The management of the airline companies advised all affected passengers to call their respective air carriers to have their flights rebooked. (Anjo Perez)

The PCG placed yesterday all units on heightened alert particularly in areas currently affected by the typhoon.

Lieutenant Commander Algier Ricafrente, Coast Guard Public Affairs chief, said a total of 935 passengers are currently stranded based on the latest assessment made by the PCG Action Center in various port terminals located in places under public storm signal warnings in Bicol and Southern Tagalog Region. (John Carlo M. Cahinhinan)