PAMPANGA – A 24-year-old woman was pinned to death while another was critically injured in a highway mishap caused by a weather phenomenon that experts described as a "micro burst" in Barangay Telebastagan in San Fernando, Pampanga on Monday night.
Inspector Louie Sason, Telabastagan police station head, identified the fatality as Juvily Gardamo and the seriously injured as Erlinda Manansala, 54, who were both pinned in a southbound passenger jeepney along the MacArthur Highway after a huge acacia tree fell on the vehicle as unusually strong winds swept the barangay at around 7:30 p.m. Monday.
Sason said police personnel and Department of Public Works and Highways employees had to use chainsaw to cut the fallen tree and retrieve the two women from the jeepney.
Gardamo was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital, while Manansala remained in serious condition, he said.
Hundreds of northbound and southbound motorists were stranded as it took more than three hours to remove the fallen acacia tree, which blocked the entire width of the MacArthur Highway.
“Traffic buildup on the lane toward San Fernando reached southern parts of Angeles City about four kilometers away,” Sason said.
“The weather event started suddenly with very strong winds coupled with dust that caused difficulty in visibility, then a very strong downpour followed and lasted for several minutes,” he recalled.
In a telephone interview, senior weather specialist Mar Palafox said the phenomenon could not be described as a freak tornado, as reports said the wind was not swirling.
“It could have been what we call micro burst which at times result from thunderstorms. It’s a phenomenon that can cause a plane to crash at airports. Aircraft are not allowed to take off if micro bursts are observed during thunderstorms,” he said.
Palafox said there are times when micro bursts give rise to tornadoes, although this apparently did not happen in Telabastagan on Monday night.