Typhoon Lando continues slow march through Luzon
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Typhoon Lando (Koppo) continues its slow march through Northern Luzon on Sunday, October 18, and is expected to linger over Luzon for most of the coming week.
State weather bureau PAGASA said Lando's center was last located in the vicinity of Santa Fe, Nueva Vizcaya, with maximum sustained winds of 150 km/h near the center and gusts of up to 185 km/h.
Public storm warning signal number 3 is in effect over these areas:
- Nueva Ecija
- Nueva Vizcaya
- Mountain Province
- Ilocos Sur
- La Union
Signal number 2, meanwhile, is in effect over the following areas:
- Ilocos Norte
- Northern Quezon including Polilio Islands
- Metro Manila
These areas, meanwhile, are under signal number 1.
- Rest of Quezon
Storm warnings elsewhere have been lowered.
In Marikina, however, Alert Level 2 has been hoisted in areas along the Marikina River as the river's water level reached the 15-meter mark due.
As of Sunday, a total of 16,351 individuals have been evacuated in affected areas in Luzon, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Based on current forecast tracks, the storm is expected to exit Philippine landmass by Wednesday, October 21, but the storm could continue lingering within the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) until Saturday, October 24.
However, it will continue to weaken, and is expected to be a severe tropical storm by Monday, October 19, and a tropical storm by Tuesday, October 20.
Areas within the storm's 600 km diameter can expect to experience moderate to heavy rainfall, while those in northern and Central Luzon will experience occasionally intense rains.
The next update will be issued at 11 pm.
Landfall in Aurora
The typhoon has wrecked houses, tore down trees and unleashed landslides and floods across a wide area of the northern Philippines on Sunday, forcing thousands to flee.
At least 8 people have been reported missing and rescue operations are underway in the rice-farming province of Nueva Ecija where rivers burst their banks and flooded several villages, regional authorities said.
"People are asking for help because the floodwaters are rising. The rescuers cannot penetrate the area as of now," Nigel Lontoc, the assistant civil defense chief for the region, told Agence France-Presse.
Television footage showed raging brown rivers swallowing up homes and carrying off large debris including tree trunks.
The government said more than 15,000 people had already been evacuated from Lando's path.
Officials said more are expected to flee as the storm makes its way to the northern tip of Luzon, the Asian country's largest island and home to about half its national population of 100 million people.
Lando made landfall before dawn on the remote fishing town of Casiguran, whipping the coast with gusts of up to 210 kilometres (130 miles) an hour for nearly seven hours before moving inland.
"Koppu tore off roofs of homes made of light materials. Rivers overflowed, and the roads to the area are blocked by downed power pylons and trees," Lontoc said.
A weakened Lando later crossed over the Pantabangan Dam in the southern foothills of the Cordillera, the country's largest mountain range, with gusts of 185 kilometers an hour.
"Some villages are no longer accessible.... I was told that rescuers saw two human bodies floating in the water," Aurelio Umali, governor of Nueva Ecija province that includes Pantabangan told ABS-CBN.
Lontoc said the two bodies have not been recovered.
Three people in the coastal resort town of Baler, near Casiguran, are missing after a large wave struck their house, Lontoc said, and three fishermen are also missing on Manila Bay.
Despite the storm weakening, the authorities warned heavy rains could also trigger flash floods and landslides in the Cordillera, known for its spectacular rice terraces carved on the slopes of towering mountains.
"I must emphasize that this is just the start. People must remain alert while we try to pick up the pieces in areas already hit," Alexander Pama, head of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, told reporters in Manila.
"We are strongly recommending forced evacuations in the Cordillera administrative region especially villages that are landslide- and flood-prone," Pama said.
Lontoc, the regional disaster official, said the rain-soaked mountains also posed a threat to the heavily populated central Luzon region just north of Manila in the coming days, even though the area was spared from its winds.
With dams filling up and forced to let off water, he said huge volumes of runoff are streaming into the Pampanga river, a major waterway that spills onto the region before draining onto Manila Bay.
Lando caused widespread power and communications disruptions across Luzon, with many roads and bridges also blocked by landslides, floods or fallen trees and power pylons.
Thousands were stranded as ferry services were suspended amid rough seas while dozens of commercial flights were cancelled. – With reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com