MANILA, Philippines – Typhoon “Pedring” killed seven people and paralyzed yesterday government and transportation operations in Metro Manila and the entire island of Luzon as strong winds and heavy rains knocked down power supply and communication lines and blocked major roads due to toppled trees and pockets of landslides.
Massive flooding hit the metropolis as typhoon winds and rains isolated the historic old city of Manila where residents waded in waist-deep waters, dodging tree branches and debris. At least seven people were killed.
The eye of Pedring (international name: Nesat) hit the landmass between Isabela and Aurora provinces yesterday morning but did not spare most of the provinces in Luzon that were affected by gusty winds and heavy rains.
Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr., Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson, said a one-year old boy became the first casualty of the weather disturbance when he fell into a creek near their house in Bato, Catanduanes on Monday night.
As the typhoon moved into Metro Manila, a mother and child were killed after their house was hit by a falling tree in Caloocan City, and four were reported killed by a collapsing wall in the suburb of Valenzuela.
Four fishermen were missing while more than 50 others were rescued along eastern shores after their boats overturned in choppy seas. Forecasters warned of four-meter-high waves.
Along downtown Manila’s baywalk, cars and buses were stuck and residents waded through floodwaters as waves as high as palm trees washed over the seawall, turning a six-lane highway into a huge brown river.
Sidewalks and entrances to buildings were swamped and vehicles struggled to navigate the narrow streets.
A hospital nearby moved patients from its ground floor, where waters were neck-deep, spokesperson Evangeline Morales said. Hospital generators were flooded and the building had no power since early yesterday.
NO POWER, COMMUNICATIONS
Cruz said the report they received was that there was power interruption in most parts of central and northern Aurora as electric posts were toppled by strong winds.
This was confirmed by Ladao who said that seven towns of Aurora experienced power outage.
“There is no cellular phone signal in Dilasag, Casiguran and Dinalungan towns in Aurora,” said Ladao.
In Metro Manila, Cruz said several areas experienced power outages as early as early as before dawn yesterday.
Nearly half of the circuits in the entire coverage area of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) were knocked down at past noon yesterday.
Meralco Spokesperson Dina Lomotan revealed in an interview that power outages hit some 298 circuits or 44 percent of the 681 total circuits in the electricity distributor’s franchise area at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.
This was bared by Lomotan even as she assured that the company would be working round the clock to restore power in the affected areas, which include a big bulk of Metro Manila as well as the nearby provinces of Cavite and Bulacan.
“We are working 24 hours. We are a 24/7 company. We’re hoping to restore a lot of these circuits that were reported out as of this time.”
In Metro Manila, Cruz said operations of the Metro Rail Transit 3 and Light Rail Transit 1 and 2 were suspended due to intermittent power supply.
The LRT lines 1 and 2, which runs from Baclaran in Pasay to Roosevelt in Quezon City and spans from Recto in Manila to Santolan in Pasig, respectively, were closed to commuters as early as 9 a.m. after power fluctuations paralyzed its operations.
Meanwhile, operation of MRT 3, which serves passengers plying Epifanio delos Santos Avenue from Taft Ave. in Pasay to North Ave. in Quezon City, was halted starting noon after falling debris obstruct
the rail tracks and strangle in the transit system’s power lines.
LRT and MRT spokesperson, lawyer Hernando Cabrera, said they had to stop the operation of the mass transit systems to prevent a scenario where trains carrying passengers would be stranded in between stations.
In Aurora, Ladao said the Baler-Casiguran Road and the Baler-Bongabon Road were not passable due to flooding.
Ladao said the Roman Highway in Orion town in Bataan was not also passable to all types of vehicles because of fallen trees.
Supt. Engelbert Soriano, Cordillera Administrative Region police spokesperson, said the onslaught of Pedring closed the Baguio-Bontoc Road, Bontoc-Kalinga Road and Bontoc-Banaue Road due to pockets of landslides.
Classes in all levels in Metro Manila remained suspended yesterday due to heavy rains.
As early as 8 p.m. Monday, the Department of Education (DepEd) already announced the suspension of classes in both private and public schools in all levels including pre-school, elementary and high school in the National Capital Region (NCR) and in other affected areas.
The stranded passengers in Bicol region ballooned to almost 4,000 as passenger ferries were not allowed to sail due to strong waves and winds.
Police said most of the stranded passengers were in Matnog port in Sorsogon with 3,500 persons. A total of 180 persons were stranded in Pilar port also in Sorsogon while nearly 400 persons were waiting for trips in Tabaco City as the operation of its international port remains suspended.
In Marinduque, police said 33 passengers were stuck in Abra de Ilog port while nearly 500 others were stranded in Samar and Leyte ports.
Visibility in the city was poor, with pounding rains obscuring the view. Emergency workers were evacuating river areas in the city that are notorious for flooding.
An Associated Press photographer said soldiers and police in trucks were moving thousands of residents, mostly women and children, from the Baseco Compound in Tondo, Manila facing a port after many houses were washed away. Male family members were reluctant to leave, saying they wanted to guard their property.
Residents in one neighborhood of Quezon City were fleeing their homes due to rising water from the nearby San Mateo River, radio reported.
In Makati, a billboard fell on two cars and a bus, causing injuries.
With its immense 650-kilometer cloud band, the typhoon threatened to foul weather across the entire island of Luzon as it moved across the Philippines toward the South China Sea late Wednesday or early Thursday toward southern China.
Signal No. 3 remains hoisted over Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra, Kalinga, Mt. Province, Ifugao, Benguet, La Union, Nueva Vizcaya, and Pangasinan.
Areas under Signal No. 2 were Apayao, Cagayan, Isabela, Quirino, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Pampanga, Tarlac, Bulacan, Bataan, and Metro Manila.
Signal No. 1 remains in Babuyan, Calayan group of Islands, Northern Quezon, Polillo Island, Rizal, Laguna, Batangas, Lubang Island, and Cavite.
Pedring was the 16th cyclone to lash the country this year. The geography of the archipelago makes it a welcome mat for about 20 storms and typhoons forming in the Pacific each year. (With reports from Aaron B. Recuenco, AP, Ellson A. Quismorio, Francis T. Wakefield, Ellalyn B. De Vera, Kris Bayos, Ina Hernando-Malipot & Franco G. Regala)