Friday, October 2, 2009

Pepeng spares Metro Manila

MANILA - The state weather bureau lifted the public storm warning signal placed over Metro Manila as typhoon Pepeng (international codename Parma) moved towards the northernmost part of Luzon.

Weather bureau PAGASA said the typhoon was 260 kilometers southeast of Aparri town, Cagayan province with slight weaker winds of 175 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 210 kph.

It has accelerated from 13 kph to 17 kph, moving northwest, PAGASA added.

PAGASA said Pepeng was expected to make landfall over the northern part of Cagayan province on Saturday night and move near Basco, Batanes by Sunday morning.

The typhoon was initially predicted to make a landfall over Aurora and Isabela areas on Saturday afternoon as a supertyphoon, but it changed course after a high pressure area developed near Hong Kong.

PAGASA said the high pressure area may also prevent Pepeng from making landfall in the Philippines.

Nathaniel Cruz, PAGASA's spokesman, said Pepeng's changing of course is "good news" as it removes the threat to flooded areas in Metro Manila and its outskirts.

"The threat of typhoon Pepeng to us has eased," Cruz said in a radio interview. "That is good news."

More than 400,000 people remained in evacuation centers in areas hit by floods caused by tropical storm Ondoy's heavy rains in the capital region.

Cruz, meanwhile, said people in disaster zones in the capital should still take precautionary measures as Pepeng was expected to bring more rains throughout the day, but assured that it would not be as heavy as rains dumped by Ondoy.

Areas placed under Storm Signal No. 3 were Cagayan, Babuyan Island, Calayan Island and northern Isabela. Signal No. 2 remained hoisted over the Batanes group of islands, Apayao, Kalinga, Ilocos Norte, Abra, Mt. Province, Ifugao, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, the rest of Isabela, northern Aurora, Polilio Island and Catanduanes.

Metro Manila has been lifted from the list of areas placed under Storm Signal No. 1. Areas still under the storm signal were Ilocos Sur, Benguet, La Union, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Rizal, rest of Aurora, Quezon, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Albay.

Preemptive evacuation

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Friday placed the country under a state of calamity as she ordered preemptive evacuations in areas expected to be hit by the typhoon.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council reported Saturday morning that thousdands of people living in critical areas in La Union, Cagayan, Isabela, Batanes, Quirino provinces have been evacuated.

More than 20,000 families or more than 100,000 people have also been evacuated in Bicol and a few hundred more were brought to evacuation centers in the Calabarzon area.

The government has also announced the allotment of a P100 million calamity fund for the continuing relief efforts for the victims of tropical storm Ondoy, which entered the country last week and left nearly 300 people dead and 42 more missing. With Agence France-Presse

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