MANILA, Philippines (2ND UPDATE) — Two people died, while 484 families were evacuated as Typhoon Labuyo (international codename Utor) swept across the northern Luzon Monday, August 12, ripping roofs off houses, tearing down power lines and triggering landslides in remote villages.
With wind gusts of 200 kilometers (124 miles) an hour, Labuyo was the most powerful storm to strike the country this year and authorities were on alert for worst-case scenarios.
“This has the strongest sustained winds for the year,” government weather forecaster Samuel Duran told Agence France-Presse.
The first recorded fatality due to Labuyo was a man who was buried by a landslide in Brgy Kabuyao, Tuba, Benguet, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) reported.
Jomar Sacliong, 24, was clearing a canal along the highway in Brgy Kabuyao when a landslide buried him, according to OCD-CAR chief Alex Uy.
The victim died on his way to hospital, the OCD said.
68 families in Aurora and Nueva Vizcaya were evacuated to designated evacuation areas, while 416 families in Isabela Province were also rescued and evacuated, according to a statement from the Northern Luzon Command.
There were also unconfirmed reports of landslides in Hungduan and Lamut municipalities in Ifugao, Cordillera police said.
The regional OCD also received reports of a landslide burying a house in Tuba, Benguet, but no one was hurt.
The national disaster agency also said it was concerned for 23 missing fishermen.
“They went out to sea before we declared that a storm was approaching,” said National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) spokesman Reynaldo Balido.
“We are still hoping that within the day, they will return home. The practice in those areas is if a storm is approaching, they seek refuge somewhere.”
There were also concerns for remote towns and villages that had been isolated by the storm, with telecommunications networks to the areas out of order and roads cut off by landslides.
After building strength in the Pacific Ocean, Labuyo hit Luzon at 3:00 am on Monday.
Television footage from Aurora province, along the east coast of Luzon where Labuyo made landfall, showed uprooted trees that had fallen on top of houses, while roofs were ripped off some buildings.
The civil defense director for Aurora province, Josefina Timoteo, said reports had been received of more than 600 houses and 12 school buildings being damaged in one town, Dinalungan.
Alex Uy, the civil defense chief in charge of the northern mountain city of Baguio, said power outages were widespread across northern Luzon.
“The wind speed is strong enough to topple power lines. Even in our office, we have no electricity. We have to use a generator,” Uy told Agence France-Presse.
As of midday, the storm was about half way across Luzon, passing over some of the most mountainous and isolated terrain in the country, moving westward towards the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
It was expected to move out of the Philippines by late Monday, according to the weather bureau.
In Manila, the nation’s capital, roughly 200 km to the south of the storm, there was heavy rain overnight but no major flooding.
With more rain expected, many schools across the capital were closed on Monday.
Hundreds of people die each year in the Philippines from the roughly 20 typhoons that strike the country annually.
Over a thousand people were killed when Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) hit the Philippines in December, the most devastating storm in the world for 2012. – Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com