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Archive for June 22nd, 2008

Typhoon ‘Frank’ crosses Central Luzon on way out of RP

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 18:10:00 06/22/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen) maintained its strength as it crossed Central Luzon on Sunday, on its way out of the country’s northwest coast, the state weather bureau said.

The storm has left at least 86 people killed and over 700 others missing after it ravaged the Visayas and southern Luzon overnight on Saturday. Rough seas caused a stalled passenger vessel carrying 626 passengers and 121 crew to capsize off the central province of Romblon.

At 4 p.m., the eye of the storm, which packs maximum sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour with gusts of up to 150 kilometers per hour near the center, was hovering over Tarlac province, 40 kilometers south of Dagupan City in Pangasinan province, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

“Typhoon Frank is still crossing Central Luzon and is expected to exit over the coast of Pangasinan tonight [Sunday],” PAGASA said in its 5 p.m. bulletin.

Moving northwest at 15 kilometers per hour, the storm was forecast to be 130 kilometers west of Laoag City in Ilocos Norte province by Monday afternoon, 310 kilometers west northwest of Basco town, Batanes province by Tuesday afternoon, and 530 kilometers west northwest of Basco or 80 kilometers west northwest of Taipei, Taiwan by Wednesday afternoon.

Public storm signal Number 3 (100 to 185 kilometer per hour winds) was raised in La Union, Benguet, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Zambales and Pampanga.

Signal Number 2 (60 to 100 kilometer per hour winds) was raised in Metro Manila, the Ilocos provinces, Abra, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Southern Aurora, Northern Quezon, Bulacan, Bataan, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Batangas and Lubang Island.

Signal Number 1 (30 to 60 kilometer per hour winds) was raised in Apayao, Cagayan, Kalinga, Isabela, the rest of Aurora, southern Quezon, Polilio Island, Marinduque and the Mindoro provinces.

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Written by joelguinto

Sun+00:002008-06-22T12:22:19+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Sun, 22 Jun 2008 12:22:19 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm06

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‘Frank’ leaves at least 86 dead, 700 missing

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:43:00 06/22/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) At least 86 people were killed while over 700 others were missing after typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen) ravaged the Visayas and Southern Luzon, including Metro Manila, officials said Sunday.

The storm caused a passenger ferry to capsize, triggered floods, which ran as deep as six feet in Iloilo province, forcing tens of thousands to evacuation centers, and caused power outages.

The M/V Princess of the Star, carrying 626 passengers and 121 crew members capsized off Sibuyan Island in the central province of Romblon at 6 p.m. Saturday, hours after it went dead at sea due to engine failure. Four people have been confirmed killed while three others were rescued, officials said.

Elsewhere, the Department of Health reported 82 deaths, mostly due to flooding, of which, 74 are confirmed while eight are unconfirmed.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) reported three people were missing after they were swept away by flood waters, one in Murcia town, Negros Occidental province, and two in Guimaras province.

At 10 a.m., the eye of “Frank,” which packs maximum sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour with gusts of up to 150 kilometers per hour near the center, was located over Clark Field in Pampanga province or 70 kilometers north of Metro Manila.

Moving northwest at 15 kilometers per hour, the storm is expected to exit through the western coast of Central Luzon by Sunday evening.

Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, said there was still hope for survivors in the capsized ferry, since it did not sink, and the trapped passengers could be seeking refuge inside the overturned hull.

The Philippine Navy has dispatched two patrol gunboats, one from Masbate province and one from Roxas City, manned by frogmen and equipped with rubber boats, to help in the search, said Navy spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo.

The Coast Guard has dispatched two ships, BRP Pampanga and BRP Davao del Norte, and two others are being readied for deployment, said Vice Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo, commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard.

The Navy will dispatch a bigger ship, the PS28, once the weather conditions permit, Arevalo said.

Gordon said he has sought the help of the United States Armed Forces to deploy rescue helicopters to the site of the capsized ferry.

“Every minute counts,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said, referring to the rescue efforts on the capsized ship.

“They are still considered missing,” Gordon said of the 740 passengers and crew who have yet to be recovered.

Ermita and Vice President Noli de Castro presided over a meeting of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) on the effects of “Frank” at the Department of National Defense (DND) in Camp Aguinaldo.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo joined the meeting via speakerphone from San Francisco, California, where she is at the start of a 10-day official US visit.

De Castro said the President ordered government agencies to press on with rescue and relief efforts. Another teleconference was set at 3 a.m. Manila time at the Kalayaan Hall in Malacañang Palace.

Romblon Representative Eleandro Jesus Madrona and the Navy spokesman said there were reports that some survivors of the ill-fated ferry swam to safety to an islet called Cristo de Gallo, an estimated 30 minutes by rubber boat from the capsized vessel.

The mayor of San Fernando town, Romblon, Nanette Tansingco, who was placed on speakerphone during the NDCC meeting said a “big” hole was seen on the exposed part of the ship’s hull.

Tansingco also made an appeal for medicine, relief supplies, and body bags. Gordon said the request for body bags was for the “decent” handling of the recovered fatalities and did not necessarily mean that the government was expecting heavy casualties.

Gordon said the reported hole on the ship could be used by the survivors, who are trapped inside the ship, to escape.

Floods, storm surge, and landslides affected 366,444 people, of which, 70,717 are in evacuation centers as of 6 a.m. Sunday, the NDCC said.

Of the total number of affected people, 182,686 were in the Western Visayas, including 155,005 in Antique province alone, the NDCC said.

The storm has stranded 5,095 passengers, 288 rolling cargo, 90 trucks, 59 passenger buses, 48 small vehicles, and eight sea vessels, the NDCC said.

Heavy rains and strong winds totally damaged 127 houses and partially damaged 16 others, the NDCC said.

Power outages were reported in Odiongan town, Romblon province, Antique province, and Iloilo City, the agency said.

The military has also readied its troops and vehicles to assist in rescue and relief operations, said Lieutenant Colonel Jonas Lumawag and Captain Carlo Ferrer, spokesmen for the Philippine Marines and the military’s Metro Manila command, respectively.

All domestic flights scheduled until 12 noon on Sunday, at the old Manila Domestic Airport, were cancelled due to typhoon Frank, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) announced on dzMM radio that it was resuming normal operations.

There has been no word yet whether flights of other airlines scheduled in the afternoon will be allowed to take off as scheduled after 12 p.m.

PAL, which uses the domestic airport of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport-2, cancelled two flights of its budget brand, PAL Express, to Caticlan. Other domestic flights of PAL and its sister company, Air Philippines have been delayed.

At the old NAIA terminal, a total of 27 international flights coming to and from Manila have either been delayed or cancelled.

Fourteen flights of Northwest Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, China Airlines and Continental Micronesia were delayed Sunday morning.

Cebu Pacific cancelled flights to Hong Kong and Taipei, and their respective turnarounds.

Two other flights of Cebu Pacific bound for Manila and coming from Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok were diverted to Cebu.

Heavy rains caused floods in several parts of Metro Manila, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said.

In Araneta Avenue, Maria Clara, a creek has reportedly overflowed, making the area impassable to all types of vehicles.

The MMDA has also received reports of knee-deep floods in Pureza, Manila, making it impassable to light vehicles.

General San Miguel in Malabon also has knee-deep floods and is impassable to light vehicles.

Also not passable to light vehicles were Banaue Retiro and the Park and Fly area near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, according to the MMDA.

The Quezon Avenue-Araneta route was not passable to light vehicles because of tire-deep floods.

In Acacia Lane, Shaw Boulevard, tire-deep floods were recorded but the area was still passable, according to the MMDA metrobase.

Floods in EDSA Bagong Barrio, MCU-Monumento, roads en route to Nichols and NAIA, Andrew Tramo, and Gate 4 Camp Aguinaldo were all recorded to be gutter deep, still passable to vehicles.

In Tacloban City, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) reported P888.50 million in damage to agriculture and infrastructure in the Eastern Visayas.

Public storm signal number 3 (100 to 185 kilometer per hour winds) was raised in Metro Manila, Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan, northern Quezon, southern Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bataan, Zambales, Tarlac, Pangasinan, Benguet, and La Union.

Signal number 2 (60 to 100 kilometer per hour winds) was raised in the Mindoro provinces, Lubang sland, Marinduque, the Bondoc Peninsula, Polilio Island, the rest of Aurora, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao, Mountain Province, and Ilocos Sur.

Signal number 1 (30 to 60 kilometer per hour winds) was raised in the Calamian Group of Islands, Romblon, Camarines Norte, Isabela, Cagayan, Kalinga, Payao, Abra, and Ilocos Norte.

With reports from Joey A. Gabieta, DJ Yap, Philippine Daily Inquirer; Thea Alberto,

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Written by joelguinto

Sun+00:002008-06-22T09:05:53+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Sun, 22 Jun 2008 09:05:53 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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Arroyo blows top at Coast Guard chief

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:06:00 06/22/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Even while on speakerphone from the United States, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s infamous temper flared up again on Sunday, during a meeting of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) on the effects of typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen).

The President raised her voice as she was asking Coast Guard chief Vice Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo over why the M/V Princess of the Star was allowed to leave Manila port despite storm warning.

The ferry capsized off Sibuyan Island while carrying over 700 passengers and crew.

The President and Tamayo apparently could not understand each other.

Arroyo thought all ships were grounded after a warning was issued.

Tamayo tried to explain that the warning issued before the inter-island vessel left Friday evening only covered small vessels.

But the President apparently did not immediately understand this and kept badgering Tamayo when the warning was issued.

A rattled Tamayo took a while to explain again to the President that the ship’s size allowed it to sail.

When she got Tamayo’s point, Arroyo told the Coast Guard chief that the warning systems needed revising.

To which, Tamayo replied: “We’ll do that ma’am.”

Towards the end of the dressing-down, the media were escorted out of the defense department conference room, where the meeting was held.

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Written by joelguinto

Sun+00:002008-06-22T09:04:08+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Sun, 22 Jun 2008 09:04:08 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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Ferry carrying over 800 sinking in storm–officials

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By Joel Guinto
Agence France-Presse,
First Posted 08:25:00 06/22/2008

MANILA, Philippines– (UPDATE 3) A ferry carrying over 800 passengers was sinking off the coast of the central Philippines after being battered by huge waves caused by a typhoon, reports and officials said Sunday.

“This is already a confirmed report,” Nanette Tansingco, mayor of the coastal town of San Fernando in Romblon province, said of the sinking.

The M/V Princess of the Star sent a distress signal late on Saturday from the area after becoming stranded when Typhoon Fengshen swept across the country.

“I sent a speed boat to check on the report, and they saw the boat submerged with a hole in the hull. They saw the name Princess of the Star and there were at least four bodies there,” the mayor told dzMM radio.

The ship was reported to have capsized at around 6 p.m. Saturday off Sibuyan Island, Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo, spokesman of the Philippine Navy, told

The vessel encountered engine trouble, lost power, and was “dead in the water,” Office of Civil Defense Administrator Glenn Rabonza said in a phone interview.

Three Navy vessels have been readied to rescue the passengers and crew. The vessel nearest the area, the PG378 stationed in Masbate province, had to abort its rescue mission due to “gigantic waves, pounding rain, and gusty winds,” Arevalo said.

“We are waiting until the weather is at least permissive [before resuming rescue efforts],” Arevalo said in a text message.

“We don’t want to complicate the problem if our personnel will later be the ones needing rescue,” he added.

According to the Coast Guard, the ferry’s manifest recorded 702 passengers including 50 children as well as 100 crew. The civil defense office said the ship carried 626 passengers and 121 crew members.

The ferry capsized about three to four kilometers (1.8 to 2.4 miles) off San Fernando town, local radio reports said.

“I have not seen any survivors,” resident Melanie Rotoni told dzMM radio.

“Life jackets and debris litter the store. I saw a dead woman in her 40s along the shore but she was the only body I saw. There is no one else.”

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Written by joelguinto

Sun+00:002008-06-22T09:03:09+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Sun, 22 Jun 2008 09:03:09 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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