Maysak weak­ens; thou­sands evac­u­ated in Philip­pines

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

Around 24,000 coastal res­i­dents of the Philip­pines were be­ing evac­u­ated as a pre­cau­tion from ap­proach­ing Trop­i­cal Storm Maysak on Satur­day, of­fi­cials said, even as ex­perts down­graded the threat from what was at one point a su­per ty­phoon.

Maysak, which days ear­lier hit sev­eral small is­lands in the Pa­cific Ocean, has weak­ened into a 115-kilo­me­ter (71-mile) an hour storm, state weather fore­caster Jun Galang told AFP.

It was also pos­si­ble the storm would fur­ther weaken to be­tween 65-85 kilo­me­ters an hour by the time it is pro­jected to hit the north­east coast of the main Philip­pine is­land of Lu­zon on Sun­day morn­ing, he added.

“At those lower in­ten­si­ties, we can elim­i­nate the threat posed by storm surges,” he said, re­fer­ring to gi­ant tsunami-like waves that had prompted lo­cal of­fi­cials to evac­u­ate coastal vil­lages in the area.

Such waves caused many of the fa­tal­i­ties when Su­per Ty­phoon Haiyan struck the coun­try in Novem­ber 2013, leav­ing more than 7,350 dead or miss­ing.

De­spite its re­duced strength, Galang said Maysak was still fore­cast to bring “mod­er­ate to oc­ca­sion­ally in­tense” rain across a 400-kilo­me­ter front on Lu­zon’s moun­tain­ous north­ern sec­tion overnight Satur­day.

Even light or mod­er­ate rain, if sus­tained for sev­eral hours, can bring floods and land­slides in a lo­cal­ity, he noted.

The ar­eas po­ten­tially

af­fected have a com­bined pop­u­la­tion of about five mil­lion peo­ple, So­cial Wel­fare Un­der­sec­re­tary Vilma Cabr­era told a news con­fer­ence in Manila on Satur­day.

About 20 ty­phoons and storms hit the Philip­pines each year, many of them deadly, but such weather dis­tur­bances are rare in April, the height of the trop­i­cal Asian na­tion’s dry sea­son.

Flock­ing to Beaches

Maysak is fore­cast to strike at the tail-end of a long Easter holi- day that saw mil­lions of Filipinos flock to the beaches to es­cape the heat.

Cabr­era said about 10,000 tourists were warned Fri­day to stay away from the beaches of Aurora prov­ince north­east of Manila.

Galang said the eye of the storm was tracked 365 kilo­me­ters southeast of Aurora’s coast at 3:00 p.m. (0700 GMT) Satur­day.

It was ex­pected to hit land there be­tween 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. on Sun­day (2200 GMT Satur­day to 0200 GMT Sun­day), he added.

“We plan to move peo­ple out of coastal vil­lages,” Nigel Lon­toc, a se­nior civil de­fense of­fi­cial for the re­gion, told AFP ear­lier.

In all, some 24,000 peo­ple from the coastal prov­ince of Aurora, where the storm is pro­jected to make land­fall Sun­day, would be evac­u­ated, he said.

“We have asked the tourists (in Aurora) to stay in their ho­tels and avoid the wa­ter,” he added.

Re­tired army gen­eral Jovie Nar­cise, who is vis­it­ing the Aurora town of Din­galan, said the skies be­gan to darken there in the af­ter­noon as big waves pounded the shore.

Small out­rig­ger fish­ing boats had been pulled up and stored about 30 me­ters away from the wa­ter to keep them from be­ing swept out to sea, he said.

“There are lots of tourists ar­riv­ing in the area but they are go­ing to re­sorts sit­u­ated on higher ground,” Nar­cise told AFP.

Maysak last week rav­aged the Fed­er­ated States of Mi­crone­sia, leav­ing at least five dead, thou­sands home­less and crops de­stroyed.

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