Ty­phoon Maysak melts away as it makes Philip­pines land­fall

The China Post - - BUSINESS -

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.

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