TYPHOON “Ompong” claimed the lives of five people as it tore through northern Luzon on Saturday, authorities said.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said two rescuers were killed in Baguio City because of a landslide.
Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Benigno Durana identified the two fatalities as Shaina Mae Pascua and Grace Ganabe, who were rescuing residents when the landslide occurred.
Durana said a girl aged 9 to 12 years old was found floating on Marikina River under Javier Bridge in Pasig City.
Four people were injured during the typhoon — Dresden Golidan, Nestor Gabino,Paul John Campos and Janet Juanzo.
Durana also reported two missing people in Itogon, Benguet: Hyacinth Gabi and Narcisa Gabino. A search and rescue operation for the two was ongoing.
“As we go forward, this number will go higher,” NDRRMC Executive Director Ricardo Jalad said, citing unverified reports of casualties during Typhoon Ompong.
Forty-two landslides were reported in Cordillera Region alone, Jalad noted.
A total of 27,669 families or 105,034 persons sought evacuation.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said Typhoon Ompong was out of the Luzon landmass and had weakened, moving with winds of 160 kilometer per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 195 kph.
Typhoon warning signals 3 and 4 were lowered. Signal 2 was up in Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Aurora, Zambales, Quirino, Pampanga and Bulacan
Metro Manila was under Signal 1, along with Bataan, Rizal, Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, Lubang Island, and northern Quezon including Polillo Island.
The southwest monsoon however is expected to bring rains to the Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Mimaropa and the Bicol Region.
Pagasa reported that four dams opened their gates on Saturday afternoon.
Ompong was expected to leave the country past 8 p.m. on Saturday, barreling toward densely populated Hong Kong and southern China.
As of 3 p.m. on Saturday, reservoir water levels significantly went up in Ipo Dam, Ambuklao Dam, Binga Dam, and Magat Dam. San Roque Dam was also scheduled to open its gates.
Power out in Cagayan
Roughly four million people were in the path of the destruction the storm slashed through the northern tip of Luzon island.
The extent of the storm’s destruction began to emerge, with reports of rain-soaked hillsides collapsing, torrents of out-of-control floodwaters and people being rescued from inundated homes.
At least seven provinces experienced total power outage.
The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Cagayan, Kalinga Apayao, Abra, Mountain Province, and Nueva Vizcaya “totally have no power” as the grid operator’s 12 230-kilovolt and 24 69-kilovolt transmission lines in northern Luzon tripped due to the weather disturbance.
The NGCP said La Union had 17 percent of its power supply; Benguet, 10 percent; Pangasinan, 15 percent; Isabela,11 percent; and Zambales, 90 percent.
Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba pleaded for help from the national government after Typhoon Ompong made landfall in the municipality of Baggao.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd said winds brought by the strongest storm to hit the country this year peeled off the Provincial Capitol’s roof and flattened the province’s rice and corn fields.
There was no electricity in the area and communication through cellphones is scarce.
“We need a lot of help and we want to get assistance from the national government,” Mamba said in a phone interview aired over the ABS-CBN News Channel.
The governor likened Ompong’s onslaught to the damage brought by Typhoon Lawin in 2016 when at least “14,000 houses were completely destroyed.”
The provincial government has set aside a standby fund but it may not be enough to cover all damage, Mamba said.
Some roads in Cordillera provinces were also rendered unpassable because of landslides, according to the Fifth Infantry Division.
Capt. Jefferson Somera, spokesman of the Fifth Infantry Division based in Isabela Province, said seven landslide incidents were monitored in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
He said that most of the blocked roads were in Ifugao and Mountain Province.
Somera said some minor flooding incidents in the region were also reported.
Defense to the rescue
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said two Lockheed C-130 “Hercules” cargo aircraft and 10 helicopters would be deployed for Typhoon Ompong relief and rescue efforts, particularly in Cagayan Valley, once the weather clears.
Lorenzana made the statement during a 9 a.m. press briefing led by Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
The defense chief said the two C-130s could airlift relief goods while the 10 helicopters could reach Cagayan Valley’s mountainous area to fulfill rescue missions.
He said these air assets were on standby at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City and could fly any time.
Lorenzana also said troops were available in Cagayan and other affected provinces for rescue missions.
All available military transport assets, he said, could be used by the Department of Social Welfare and Development for the transport of relief goods and other items to communities needing help in the affected provinces.
The Northern Luzon Command head, Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat, was in Tuguegarao, Cagayan managing efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines related to “Ompong.”
WITH FRANCIS EARL A. CUETO, AFP, PNA AND JOVE MOYA
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