TYPHOON Tisoy on Monday night battered provinces in Luzon and the Visayas with its powerful winds and strong rains, killing at least one and forcing the evacuation of nearly half-a-million people and causing major damage to government and private infrastructures including the Legazpi Airport.
Police Regional Office 5 director Brigadier General Anthony Alcañeses said that the lone recorded fatality died of electrocution.
The victim was identified as 33-year-old Marco Paolo Ursua, a resident of Centro B, Barangay Loba-Loba in Libmanan, Camarines Sur.
The victim was reportedly fixing his roof when he accidentally came into contact with a live wire and was electrocuted. The impact caused him to fall from the roof and into a canal where neighbors found him.
Alcañeses said that as of 2 p.m. yesterday, a total of 455,232 people have been evacuated to safe places in Albay, Catanduanes, Camarines Norte and Sur, Masbate and Sorsogon provinces and in Naga City.
As of 5 a.m. yesterday, he said that 22 Bicol areas were flooded, particularly in Camarines Sur and Naga, while two road sections in Catanduanes and Naga were not passable due to fallen trees.
A total of 4,093 persons were stranded in the region due to cancelled sea trips. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said 22 houses were damaged, including 13 that were destroyed in Camarines Sur, Apayao and Kalinga.
PNP spokesman, Brig. Gen. Bernard M. Banac said that several police facilities in Sorsogon including the provincial office were damaged by strong winds and heavy rains brought about by “Tisoy.”
Banac said that the glass windows of the the Sorsogon Police Provincial Office were shattered exposing computer equipment and other documents to rainwater.
Ten areas in Apayao, Abra, Quezon, Albay, Catanduanes and Masbate also experienced power interruption due to the effects of “Tisoy.”
Operations at the Legazpi Airport was disrupted by the typhoon.
“Bumigay ‘yong ceiling. Tanggal ‘yong mga bintana at wala eh, talagang bumigay nga eh,” Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara said as nearly six hours of continuous heavy winds and rain destroyed parts of the airport’s wall, shattered glasses and windows and caused the terminal’s ceiling and a signboard to fall.
During its initial onslaught, the whole roof of a house in Legazpi City was ripped apart and landed in the middle of the road.
In Virac, Catanduanes, inmates housed at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology-run jail were also evacuated amid the possibility of a storm surge.
A total of 20 ships were stranded in Masbate while there were three in Sorsogon.
Alcañeses said at least six people were rescued by the local police in Naga City and Masbate province. He also said that so far, they have not received any reports of looting.
The official activated the PRO5 Regional Standby Support Force since last Friday and readied all available search-and-rescue equipment needed in emergencies.
He added that they have activated other response teams to undertake search-and-rescue, relief distribution, road clearing, security and transport operations during the typhoon.
Due to the high winds, Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport was “closed for operations”, airport authority general manager Ed Monreal told AFP.
It was not clear when flights would resume, but authorities gave an estimate of 11:00 pm (1500 GMT) Tuesday and noted their decision would depend on the weather.
Nearly 500 flights were cancelled, and officials warned passengers not to come to the airport.
One of the terminals AFP visited, which would normally be bustling with morning departures, was occupied by a handful of staff and stranded passengers.
One traveler, 23-year-old Canadian Constance Benoit, was hit with a nearly day-long delay to her flight back home.
She had arrived in Manila on a typhoon-buffeted flight Monday morning from the central island of Cebu.
“It was the most turbulent flight I ever took in my life,” she told AFP. “I just discovered what airsickness is.”
Games without spectators
Kammuri had already snarled some plans for the SEA Games, which opened Saturday and are set to run through December 11 in and around Manila.
The windsurfing competition was halted as a precaution and triathlon events were held earlier than scheduled.
Ramon Suzara, the chief operating officer of the organising committee, said Monday organisers wanted the competitions to go on.
“Like (for) volleyball, it will continue as long as there is power supply and teams and technical officials are safe, we will continue but without spectators,” he added.
The storm is another difficulty for the Games, which suffered from a string logistical glitches and a rush of last-minute construction in the run-up to Saturday’s opening.
The competition, which is spread across three main sites that are hours’ drive apart, include a Games-records 56 sports and dozens of venues.
The Supreme Court suspended work starting at 12 noon yesterday in all courts in the National Capital Judicial Region due to the expected heavy rains.
The suspension order covered the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Court of Tax Appeals, Sandiganbayan, and lower courts.
With Hector Lawas