Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ofel' makes landfall

MANILA, Philippines - Tropical storm “Ofel” (international name “Son-tinh”) slammed into the country yesterday, bringing heavy rains and strong winds that left thousands of passengers stranded in several ports in the Visayas and Mindanao. Ofel, packing winds of 65 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 80 kph, made landfall over Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte at around 10 a.m. yesterday. It was moving west-northwest at 22 kph as of 5 p.m. yesterday. It was hovering over Ormoc City, Leyte as of 4 p.m. yesterday, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). Public storm warning signal no. 2 was hoisted over Masbate, Romblon, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran Island, Camotes Island, Capiz, Aklan, Boracay Island, northern Cebu, Bantayan Island, northern Negros and Dinagat Island. Signal no. 1, meanwhile, was up in Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Burias Island, southern Quezon, Marinduque, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Calamian group of islands, Batangas, Lubang Island, Coron Island, Cuyo Island, Camarines Sur, Northern Samar, Antique, Iloilo, southern Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Surigao del Norte, and Siargao. PAGASA weather forecaster Aldzar Aurelio said moderate to heavy rains are expected to prevail over Metro Manila today due to the indirect effect of the storm. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council yesterday alerted residents of low-lying and mountainous areas on possible landslides and flashfloods, and those in coastal areas on storm surges. According to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), at least 4,232 people were stranded yesterday in various ports in the country as a precaution against the strong winds and rough seas brought about by Ofel. Of the number, 1,346 were stranded in Metro Manila and Central Luzon, 362 in Eastern Visayas, 1,693 in Central Visayas, and 831 in Northern Mindanao, said PCG spokesman Cmdr. Armand Balilo. Because of the bad weather and poor visibility, Cebu Pacific yesterday cancelled its flights to and from Butuan City. – With Evelyn Macairan, Ben Serrano, Jennifer Rendon, Alexis Romero - By Helen Flores