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Super typhoon downs NegOcc Extent of damage yet to be known

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BACOLOD City — The super typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: “Haiyan”) may have weakened upon making a landfall in the Visayas, but it managed to bring power and communications down in Negros Occidental.

It made its fifth landfall in Concepcion, Iloilo, at around 12 noon yesterday, packing winds at 215 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center, with gustiness of up to 250 kph.

The command center put up at the Negros Occidental Multi-Purpose Activity Center were still awaiting reports on damages as of press time.

Eric Villaluna, officer-in-charge of the Provincial Disaster Management Program Division, said “Yolanda” appeared to have weakened since hitting Guiuan, Eastern Samar; Tolosa, Leyte; and Daanbantayan, Cebu.

It veered away from Negros Occidental toward Panay Island but caused heavy rainfall and powerful winds, causing power outage and electrical communication failure.

Northern towns and cities in Negros Occidental was placed under Storm Signal No. 2 as of press time yesterday afternoon.

One hundred three barangays in 17 local government units were affected, a consolidated report by the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) showed.

Some 4,791 families or 21,753 individuals have been transferred to about 111 evacuation centers as of 3 p.m. yesterday, said the PSWDO chief Liane Garcia.

Later in the afternoon, the evacuees rose to about 6,817.

In Bacolod, some 1,805 families left their homes and stayed in 37 evacuation centers in barangay gymnasiums, day care centers and public school buildings, a report of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council showed.

Victorias City had the most number of affected families with 581 (2,839 individuals) from 13 villages, Garcia said.

It was followed by Cadiz City with 565 affected families (2,825 individuals) from 12 barangays; Kabankalan City, 689 families (2,662 individuals) from 13 barangays; Bago City, 469 families (2,345 individuals), two barangays;

Calatrava, 386 families (1,930 individuals), five barangays; Himamaylan City, 355 families (1,775 individuals), five barangays; Sagay City, 330 families (1,650 individuals), three barangays; Isabela, 285 families (1,083 individuals), four barangays; Ilog, 202 families (1,010 individuals), four barangays;

Escalante City, 254 families (1,001 individuals), six barangays; Silay City, 211 families (882 individuals), nine barangays; EB Magalona, 191 families (738 individuals), 13 barangays; Sipalay City, 155 families (604 individuals), seven barangays; Pontevedra, 81 families (261 individuals), five barangays; La Castellana, 26 families (100 individuals), one barangay; and Moises Padilla, 11 families (48 individuals), one barangay.

A portion of the Sagay City Hall was damaged by strong winds, Mayor Alfredo Marañon III confirmed yesterday.

The building’s three huge glass panels gave way, initial inspection showed.

Mayor Marañon also said they have evacuated about 1,500 families; they had no reports of casualties as of press time.

Villaluna and Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. yesterday advised the public to stay indoors and take preemptive measures.

Marañon called on Negrenses to continue praying. He also appealed to those in evacuation centers “not to leave … unless advised by their local chief executives or local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils.”

Weather experts from the United States considered “Yolanda” as the strongest typhoon to have formed in the world this year.

After passing through Panay Island, “Yolanda” was expected to pass through southern Mindoro and Busuanga town in Palawan, and will exit the country’s landmass toward the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), said the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

An estimated rainfall of 10–20 millimeters per hour (heavy to intense) was expected within the 400-kilometer (km.) diameter from the eye, PAGASA said.

Since the typhoon is moving away from the province, the provincial government will now focus on response, relief and rehabilitation efforts, said Marañon.

Yesterday, he already directed the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to start ocular inspections and to cleanup roads in the north so as not to hamper the delivery of relief assistance.

Provincial Engineer Ernie Mapa has said he has dispatched inspection teams to check on the condition of major thoroughfares.

Marañon went to the north to monitor the extent of damage caused by “Yolanda.” Among the hardest hit were Cadiz, Escalante and Sagay cities and Toboso town, he said.

Strong winds have uprooted and fallen trees, thereby blocking major thoroughfares in Sagay and Cadiz, and blew away galvanized-iron sheets.

From Sagay, Marañon tried to return to this capital city early afternoon yesterday but returned after finding the highway impassable.

As of 5 p.m. yesterday, “Yolanda” was at 115 km. west of Roxas City or over the water off the western coast of Antique.

Signal No. 4 was hoisted over Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Iloilo and the island province of Guimaras, while Negros Occidental was placed under Signal No. 2. (With reports from Philippines News Agency/PN)