Typhoon Maysak melts away as it makes Philippines landfall
A super typhoon dissolved into a tropical depression and made landfall in the Philippines Sunday, forecasters said, easing fears after thousands of residents fled remote coastal villages to avoid potential giant waves.
Maysak, which began as a Super Typhoon in the Pacific Ocean, reached the northeast coast of the main island of Luzon at 8:00 a.m. (0000 GMT) with winds of 55 kilometers an hour, chief state weather forecaster Esperanza Cayanan said.
“As of now, most of our fears have melted away,” she told a news conference shortly after the depression reached Dinapigue, a remote town on Luzon’s northeast coast, about 250 kilometers from Manila.
The government had evacuated more than 25,000 people from coastal villages in the region, while police drove away thousands of tourists from beaches on nearby Aurora province as a precaution against potential tsunamilike waves known as storm surges.
The tourists, many of whom had come from Manila and nearby areas to enjoy the long Easter holidays in the mainly Catholic nation, breathed a sigh of relief and dived back into the still choppy waters on Easter Sunday.
“We made a calculated risk (that Maysak would dissipate) and we got lucky. Prayers also helped,” Manila-based television producer Rona Agtay, 39, told AFP as she hit the surf.
State weather forecaster Shelly Ignacio said the super typhoon met unfavorable atmospheric conditions as it approached land, causing the storm system to dissipate dramatically overnight Saturday.
At its current strength, Maysak can break tree branches and may take the roofs off houses made of light materials, while sea travel remains risky for small boats, the state weather service said in its latest bulletin.
“We expect this system to melt away as it crosses the mountains, although there is a small possibility it could survive by the time it hits the water (South China Sea) tomorrow,” she added.
‘No casualties reported’
More than 500 boats were also ordered to remain at port in the region, while 10 domestic flights suspended. The authorities were expected to lift the restrictions Sunday.
With the improving conditions, local officials will now make the call on when to send the evacuees back home, civil defense director Alexander Pama told a news conference.
“We had not received any reports of casualties,” Pama added.
Faustino Dy, governor of Isabela province, which includes Dinapigue, told Manila radio station DZBB that people were returning to their coastal homes after Maysak passed over the area uneventfully.
About three dozen surfers rode shoulder-high waves at the Sabang resort in the Aurora provincial capital of Baler, while others lounged on the beach in overcast conditions with a brisk wind, but no rain, an AFP photographer said.
“Yesterday the police came and stopped us from going into the water,” said TV producer Agtay, who took a bus bound for Baler as Maysak churned towards the area.
“Some of police officers even went out there on board surfboards because a few people refused to leave the water.”
About 20 typhoons and storms hit the Philippines each year, many of them deadly, but rarely hit in April.
Storm surges caused many of the fatalities when Super Typhoon Haiyan smashed onto the central Philippines in November 2013, leaving more than 7,350 people dead or missing.