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* 1,526 families in 5th District evacuated  

* Telco signals down; report gathering slow


ILOILO — The super typhoon “Yolanda,” considered the strongest typhoon to have hit the planet this year, ripped through this province yesterday, displacing thousands of families and destroying houses. At least three were killed.

Intermittent heavy rains and powerful winds caused power interruptions and electronic communications failure, hampering the collection of reports from various local governments units to disaster management centers and news media in Iloilo City.

Hardest hit by the typhoon was the northern part of the province, according to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) stationed in the capital city.

As of 6 p.m. yesterday, some 5,686 families all over the province have been evacuated, the PDRRMC said.

“Yolanda” made a landfall on Panay Island at about 1 p.m.

It made a fifth landfall in Concepcion town — packing winds at 215 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center, with gustiness of up to 250 kph — after passing through Guiuan, Eastern Samar; Tolosa, Leyte; and Daanbantayan, Cebu.

A total of 1,526 families have been evacuated in the 5th District — 1,200 in Carles, 272 in Concepcion and 54 in Lemery — said the PDRRMC.

Numerous houses in the district were also destroyed.

“Ninety percent” of the 270 houses in Brgy. Malangabang, Concepcion, were destroyed, said Provincial Administrator Raul Banias.

A man and his son were killed after they got electrocuted in Calinog.

Twenty-eight-year-old Randy Sijar of Brgy. Alibunan touched a live wire while helping in the rescue operations, the PDRRMC said.

His father rushed to help Sijar and got electrocuted as well, the town mayor Alex Centena said over dyFM Bombo Radyo.

In San Enrique, a 20-year-old woman was killed after she was accidentally hit in the head by a corrugated galvanized iron blown by the strong winds.

Marissa Pedregosa of Brgy. Imbang Pequeño went outside of the evacuation center in the town despite being warned not to, said the PDRRMC.

Jerry Bionat, executive director of the PDRRMC, warned the public against leaving their homes or the evacuation centers while the typhoon was still pounding the province.

In Dumangas, 1,208 families (4,994 individuals) in 22 barangays were evacuated.

The municipal government placed the town under a state of calamity at about 10 a.m. yesterday.

In Janiuay, a landslide destroyed two classroom buildings in Brgy. Aglubong and 105 houses.

Janiuay’s Municipal DRRMC has not reported any casualty as of press time yesterday, but the town was also placed under a state of calamity at 4:30 p.m.

Two bridges in the town were also impassable — the Suage and the Manapa bridges — according to Vice Gov. Raul Tupas.

In Miag-ao, the number of families affected by the super typhoon reached 600; Mina, 419 families; Alimodian, 292; Zarraga, 239; Dueñas, 143; Passi City, 198; and Guimbal, 110.

Most of these families live in coastal barangays, Bionat said. They were asked to leave their houses to avoid storm surges.

Bionat asked local officials and the residents to help gather information on the effect of “Yolanda” in their respective localities.

Telecommunication signals of both Smart Communications and Globe Telecom, the two largest telcos in the country, all over Panay Island bogged down yesterday, according to the Regional DRRMC.

Rosario Cabrera, RDRRMC chair, said the line signal of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. was fluctuating, too, giving them a hard time in gathering reports from local DRRMCs.

Cabrera said they used radio devices of the police and the Philippine Army to get information from their local units.

Power interruptions prompted them to use generators, she said. Brownouts were also experienced in Antique, Aklan and Capiz; partial brownouts occurred in Guimaras and Iloilo.

Packs of relief goods have been prepared for transport to affected areas in the north, Dr. Neneth Pador of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office said. Police, soldiers and civilian volunteers helped pack the goods.

Five hundred sacks of rice, and canned goods, biscuits and potable water have been loaded into two dump trucks deployed to the 5th District late yesterday afternoon, said Pador.

The Provincial Engineer’s Office joined the convoy to start conducting clearing operations, she added.

But yesterday evening, the convoy returned to Iloilo City after failing to get through road obstructions and waist-deep flood along the way, Provincial Administrator Banias said. He said relief operations will continue today.

As of 11 p.m. yesterday, “Yolanda” was 30 km. west of Coron, Palawan, with maximum sustained winds of 195 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 230 kph. It was expected to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility this afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Iloilo City government ordered the forced evacuation of residents in coastal barangays under imminent danger.

But the City Social Welfare and Development Office was yet to come up with the number of evacuees in various evacuation centers in the metro.

“Yolanda’s” strong winds either destroyed or rendered roofless several houses in the city, particularly in coastal villages, and toppled down trees and electric posts of the Panay Electric Co.

They also shattered glass jalousies and chipped off huge slabs of concrete from buildings along Rizal–Ortiz streets in City Proper.

A blackout occurred at 2 p.m. Power returned to select areas in the metro late evening yesterday.

The City DRRMC was still monitoring the effects of the super typhoon in the city. (With a report from Philippines News Agency/PN)