Officials said they are bracing for the approaching Typhoon “Mangkhut” at the same level they would have for Super Typhoon “Yolanda,” which devastated Samar and Leyte in 2013.
The typhoon, which will be called Ompong once it enters the country’s area of responsibility on Wednesday, isn’t as powerful as “Yolanda” but it’s picking up strength and could yet become a super typhoon, said Edgar Posadas, spokesman for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Disaster officials raised the highest alert in a three-step system, as the storm is expected to bring heavy rains.
Posadas said the typhoon will intensify the southwest monsoon and bring heavy rains to Cagayan, Isabela, Apayao, Kalinga, Abra, Ilocos Norte, and Batanes.
He added that the diameter of the typhoon measures about 600 kilometers, and could affect Metro Manila in the next few days.
Under a red alert, all concerned agencies must prepare for the typhoon and send representatives to the NDRRMC headquarters.
Food packs have been positioned in northern Luzon, which is expected to bear the brunt of the typhoon’s onslaught, Posadas told radio dzMM.
Posadas also urged the public to cooperate with possible preemptive or forced evacuations.
Mangkhut was 1,820 kilometers east of Southern Luzon at 8 am, packing maximum sustained winds of up to 170 kilometers per hour and 210 kph gusts, the weather bureau said in an advisory.
Meanwhile, tropical depression “Neneng” is out of the Philippine area of responsibility, but its trough will continue to bring light to moderate rain showers and thunderstorms in Batanes, the Babuyan Group of Islands, and the regions of Ilocos, Cordillera, and Cagayan Valley.
Residents in these areas, especially those living near river channels, in low-lying areas and in mountainous areas, are advised to take appropriate actions against possible flooding and landslides.
The Philippine Coast Guard said it has alerted its districts and stations in Northern and Central Luzon to brace for Mangkhut.
PCG Commandant Admiral Elson Hermogino directed all PCG district commanders in areas expected to be hit by the super typhoon to ensure the readiness of all assets and personnel to respond during emergencies and to coordinate with their respective Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council for possible rescue and related activities.
The PCG head also directed PCG units to remind and prevent all types of inter-island vessels from sailing in the areas where public storm signal will be possibly hosted by the weather bureau. The riding public is advised to check with their shipping companies for the possible cancellation of their trips especially those traveling to Northern Luzon, Southern Tagalog and nearby provinces.
Senator Loren Legarda, meanwhile, reminded government agencies, local government units, and citizens to prepare for the approaching typhoon.
Legarda, who heads the Senate committee on climate change, said that LGUs, including barangay officials, should conduct information dissemination on the strength of the typhoon and its effects and must draft a community evacuation plan.
“Every barangay should inform citizens of possible landslides, flooding and storm surge, and those in high-risk areas should be evacuated to safe places before the typhoon approaches the threatened areas,” she said. With PNA
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