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‘State of Calamity’ as Typhoon Approaches in Philippines
The News - Natural Disasters
October 02, 2009
phillippines typhoon disaster
The Philippines declared a national “state of calamity” as Typhoon Parma headed for Luzon, where recovery efforts continue six days after Tropical Storm Ketsana devastated Manila and its surroundings, leaving 293 people dead.

Authorities began moving people from provinces north and southeast of Manila into shelters, Philippine Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said in an interview on ABS-CBN television. The nationwide state of calamity gives the government the power to peg the price of basic goods.

Parma’s eye was 254 kilometers (158 miles) northeast of the city of Daet on Luzon at 2 p.m. Manila time today, the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center said. The typhoon is forecast to make landfall after 8 a.m. tomorrow. 

The typhoon will bring more rain to areas already devastated by Ketsana, which earlier this week left more than 100 people dead in Vietnam and Cambodia. In Indonesia, rescue workers are searching for survivors in Padang in Sumatra, where an earthquake two days ago left 230 people dead. In the South Pacific, a recovery operation is under way after a tsunami killed more than 150.  (Bloomberg )

“It is almost unprecedented for any region to experience so many disasters over such a short period of time,” United Nations Under-Secretary-General Noeleen Heyzer said in a statement. “The disasters of the past week remind us that the Asia Pacific is the worlds’ disaster hot spot.”

Devastating Damage

Parma’s winds decreased to 222 kilometers per hour from 241 yesterday. The typhoon remains a Category 4 storm, the second- strongest on the Saffir-Simpson scale, and is forecast to weaken slightly before making landfall, according to the center.

Category 4 storms are capable of causing “devastating damage” and can blow roofs off residential buildings, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

In a meeting on preparations for Parma broadcast on government TV, President Gloria Arroyo called the governors of five eastern Luzon provinces to tell them to start evacuations.

The meeting in Cainta, one of the worst-hit municipalities of Rizal province east of Manila, was attended by Cabinet members, military, police officials and water officials.

About 1,000 people were evacuated from the town of Santa Cruz in preparation for Parma, said Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro, commander of the 1st Infantry Brigade in Laguna province southeast of Manila. Water is still chest deep from Ketsana in some parts of Santa Cruz, he said.

Passengers Stranded

More than 330 passengers are stranded in two ports in southeastern Luzon, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said on its Web site.

Philippine Airlines Inc. and Cebu Air Inc. canceled flights between the capital and southeastern Luzon and neighboring islands, Manila airport General Manager Alfonso Cusi said in a mobile phone text message.

The Philippines weather agency, which refers to Parma as Pepeng, raised its No. 2 storm signal for areas of southeastern Luzon today, meaning winds of between 60 and 100 kph are expected. A gale warning was issued for islands to the southeast of Luzon.

Further east over the Pacific, Typhoon Melor strengthened overnight and is now also a Category 4 storm, according to the U.S. navy center. Melor, the 20th storm of the northwest Pacific cyclone season, was located 622 kilometers east- northeast of the U.S. territory of Guam at 2 p.m. Manila time today.

The storm’s winds increased to 222 kph from 120 kph yesterday as it headed northwest. The Navy’s forecast track shows it crossing the island chain of Saipan north of Guam and heading toward Japan during the next five days. Melor’s winds are forecast to strengthen to 241 kph by 2 p.m. tomorrow.

Manila Flooded

Ketsana blew across Luzon on Sept. 26 dumping a month’s worth of rain in six hours and flooding most of Manila and surrounding areas. More than 3 million people were affected and 419,333 are in evacuation centers down from 676,235 earlier, the Philippines disaster council said in its latest report. Forty- two people are missing.

The Philippine government on Sept. 27 declared a “state of calamity” for the Manila metropolitan region and other parts of Luzon island as well as Mindoro island to the south.

Ketsana smashed into central Vietnam on Sept. 29 as a typhoon with winds of 167 kph, killing at least 99 people.

The storm left at least 17 people dead in Cambodia, while 16 were killed and 135 are missing in Laos, Agence France-Presse reported today.

Ketsana is the name of a tree in Laos, according to the Hong Kong Observatory, which lists names in use for Pacific storms on its Web site. Parma is the name of a ham and chicken liver dish in Macau and Melor is the Malaysian word for Jasmine flowers.

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