(UPDATE 3) ‘Egay’ rains, winds batter northern Philippines

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net, Agence France-Presse
Last updated 02:18pm (Mla time) 08/17/2007

 

MANILA, Philippines — Heavy rains spawned by typhoon “Egay” (international codename: Sepat) battered the northern Philippines on Friday, flooding 20 towns and forcing authorities to suspend classes, close government offices in Metro Manila, and cancel domestic flights.

Although Egay did not directly hit the main Philippine island of Luzon, it strengthened the monsoon rains in that area, causing three days of downpours and leaving many areas flooded.

The typhoon was Friday located some 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of the northernmost Philippine islands of Batanes, heading northwest, according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

The storm has continued to strengthen with maximum sustained winds of 215 kilometers per hour and gusts of 250 kilometers per hour, the government-run weather bureau said.

Batanes has been placed under signal number 3 and the Babuyan Islands under signal number 2, PAGASA said.

Signal number 1 has been raised over the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Kalinga, Apayao, Ilocos Norte, Abra, and the northern portion of Aurora, it said.

Heavy rains are expected to continue falling on the northern Philippines on Saturday, the weather station said.

Despite the bad weather, no one has been reported hurt or killed from the effects of the rain or the flooding.

Close to 400,000 people have been affected by floodwaters that have submerged 20 municipalities in Pampanga province due to heavy rains, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said.

From 325,871 when typhoons “Chedeng” (international codename: Pabuk) and Dodong “Wutip” caused heavy rains last week, the number had risen to 372,458, with “Egay” bringing monsoon rains to Luzon since Wednesday, the NDCC aid.

The affected municipalities are Lubao, Arayat, Masantol, Apalit, San Luis, Mabalacat, Magalang, Floridablanca, Minalin, Mexico, Macabebe, Sasmuan, Candaba, Sta. Ana, Guagua, Bacolor, Sta. Rita, San Simon, Sto. Tomas, and San Fernando City.

But the NDCC said that the floodwaters were “slowly subsiding.”

A total of 1,017 people were evacuated in Mexico, Guagua, and Bacolor towns, the NDCC said.

In Southern Luzon, the Philippine Coast Guard allowed roll-on roll-off (RORO) ships to travel but banned fishing boats and small sea craft, it said.

In Albay province, a ship operated by the Rapu Rapu town provincial government suffered engine trouble and was forced to dock in Balabagon village, Manito town. All passengers and crew are safe, it said.

In Aparri province, 70 passengers of a small vessel were temporarily housed at a passenger dormitory in Mankanaya village, it said.

Schools in Metro Manila and nearby areas have been shut since Wednesday, and work in government offices was stopped Friday except for emergency services.

Classes in areas under storm signals were suspended at “proper levels.”

Signal number 3 results in the cancellation of classes, up to the college level, signal number 2, up to the high school level, and signal number 1, up to the elementary level, according to a directive from the Department of Education.

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