Ompong topples power lines, rips off roofs in Northern Luzon


Posted at Sep 15 2018 10:47 AM

Ompong topples power lines, rips off roofs in Northern Luzon 1
Vehicles maneuver around debris blown by Typhoon Ompong's strong winds on a road in Tuguegarao City in Cagayan province Saturday. Typhoon Ompong, the strongest typhoon to hit the country so far this year, slammed into northern Philippines with violent winds and torrential rains. Authorities warned millions on its path of potentially heavy destruction. Ted Aljibe, Agence France-Presse

MANILA - Day broke after a sleepless night in northern Luzon Saturday with thousands of families in shelters, power and communication lines down, roads shut by landslides, trees toppled, and houses and other structures damaged in the wake of Typhoon Ompong's landfall. 

No casualty has been recorded so far in affected areas, officials said in briefing Saturday, but government is expecting a heavy damage toll as the typhoon continued its lashing with winds of 185 kilometers per hour (kph) and gusts of up to 305 kph. 

There was no reported storm surge yet, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a 9:30 a.m. briefing of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). 

"Wala pa kaming tulog dito kasi nagbagsakan mga puno dito alas-3 (We have not slept here yet because the trees here were toppled around 3 a.m.)," said Francis Tolentino, presidential adviser on political affairs who President Rodrigo Duterte appointed as his "conduit" for Ompong response. 

He spoke by phone from Tuguegarao City, among areas hardest hit by the typhoon's wrath. 

Just hours earlier, at 1:40 a.m., Ompong, the strongest storm to hit the country this year, made landfall in Baggao, Cagayan, northeast of the city. 

As of latest estimates, the typhoon has affected 126,751 individuals or some 31,631 families in 594 barangays. 

Some 13,413 people are currently in 724 evacuation centers in Regions 1, 2, 3 and the Cordillera Administrative Region. 

Government has prepositioned relief goods and is ready to augment supplies as necessary, officials said. 

Public Works Secretary Mark Villar reported several road sections closed due to landslides and soil collapse in Regions, 1, 2 and CAR, with maintenance crews deployed for clearing operations. 

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, sent to monitor the typhoon's impact in his home province, reported damage at the Tuguegarao airport. 

"We saw na nasalanta ang airport... Wala hong initial na nakitang problema sa runway... Sa unang pananaw ho, 'yung opisina, glasses are splintered, the X-ray machine nabagsakan ng ceiling, computers nabagsakan," Tugade reported at the briefing by phone. 

(We saw that the airport was devastated... Initially we did not see a problem at the runway... Upon initial check, in the offices, the glasses are splintered, ceiling fell on the X-ray machine, computers were also damaged.)

Power and communication lines were also down, he said. 

At the airport in Basco, Batanes, power is also out and communication is intermittent, Tugade said. 

In Ilagan City, Isabela, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III reported continuing strong winds. 

"Talagang piniga kami ni Typhoon Ompong. Paikot-ikot. Kahit wala ng ulan malakas pa rin hangin. Talagang mabigat itong ginawa ni Typhoon Ompong," he reported at the briefing. 

(Typhoon Ompong really dealt a blow. It's going around in circles. There's no more rain but the wind is still very strong. What Ompong did is really severe.)

"'Yung mga maisan dito pinaluhod lahat ni Ompong, mga palay, mga gulay, mga bubong ng bahay," Bello said.

(Ompong flattened corn fields, rice fields, farms, and [damaged] roofs here.)

"'Yung bubungan ng Provincial Capitol of Cagayan, nawala, natanggal," he said.

(The roof of the Provincial Capitol of Cagayan was blown off by the storm.)