Is­land na­tion braces for huge ty­phoon

San Francisco Chronicle - - WORLD - By Jim Gomez Jim Gomez is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

MANILA — Philip­pine au­thor­i­ties be­gan evac­u­at­ing thou­sands of peo­ple Thurs­day from the path of the most pow­er­ful ty­phoon this year, clos­ing schools, ready­ing bull­doz­ers for land­slides and plac­ing res­cuers and troops on full alert in the coun­try’s north.

More than 4 mil­lion peo­ple live in ar­eas at most risk from the storm, which the Joint Ty­phoon Warn­ing Cen­ter in Hawaii cat­e­go­rized as a su­per ty­phoon with pow­er­ful winds and gusts.

Ty­phoon Mangkhut could hit north­east­ern Ca­gayan prov­ince on Satur­day.

With a mas­sive rain­cloud band 560 miles wide, com­bined with sea­sonal mon­soon rains, the ty­phoon could bring heavy to in­tense rains that could set off land­slides and flash floods, the fore­cast­ers said. Storm warn­ings have been raised in 25 prov­inces across the main north­ern is­land of Lu­zon, re­strict­ing sea and air travel.

Of­fice of Civil De­fense chief Ricardo Jalad told an emer­gency meet­ing led by Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte that about 4.2 mil­lion peo­ple in Ca­gayan, nearby Is­abela prov­ince and out­ly­ing pro­vin­cial re­gions are vul­ner­a­ble to the most de­struc­tive ef­fects near the ty­phoon’s 77-mile-wide eye. Nearly 48,000 houses in those high-risk ar­eas are made of light ma­te­ri­als and vul­ner­a­ble to Mangkhut’s fe­ro­cious winds.

Across the north on Thurs­day, res­i­dents cov­ered glass win­dows with wooden boards, strength­ened houses with rope and braces and moved fish­ing boats to safety.

Ca­gayan Gov. Manuel Mamba said by tele­phone that evac­u­a­tions of res­i­dents from risky coastal vil­lages and is­land mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties north of the rice- and corn-pro­duc­ing prov­ince of 1.2 mil­lion peo­ple have started and school classes at all lev­els have been can­celed.

“The weather here is still good but we’re mov­ing them now be­cause it’s very im­por­tant that when it comes, peo­ple will be away from peril,” Mamba said.

A change in the ty­phoon’s track prompted au­thor­i­ties to rapidly re­assess where to re­de­ploy emer­gency teams and sup­plies, Mamba said.

Duterte asked Cab­i­net of­fi­cials from the north to help over­see dis­as­ter­re­sponse work if needed, and told re­porters it was too early to con­sider seek­ing for­eign aid.

The ty­phoon is ap­proach­ing at the start of the rice and corn har­vest­ing sea­son in Ca­gayan, a ma­jor agri­cul­tural pro­ducer, and farm­ers were scram­bling to save what they could of their crops, Mamba said.

AFP / Getty Im­ages

A res­i­dent se­cures his roof in prepa­ra­tion for su­per ty­phoon Mangkut in Can­don City, north of Manila.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.