MANILA - A man taking shelter at an evacuation center in Isabela province died of heart attack as typhoon ''Lawin'' battered Luzon, Isabela governor Faustino Dy confirmed Thursday.
A DZMM report quoted Dy identifying the 70-year-old casualty as Jose Malenap, who died at an evacuation center in Santo Tomas town.
In a phone interview, Dy said the typhoon's ferocious winds terrified thousands of residents and almost upended rescue vehicles at the height of its onslaught between 10 p.m. Wednesday and 4 a.m. Thursday.
"Talaga naman kung maihahambing namin iyung ibang karanasan namin, ibang-iba po ito. Talagang napakalakas. Kung nakita niyo po iyung pelikulang 'Twister', talagang halos itumba iyung aming mga rescue van dahil sa tindi po ng hangin na dumapo po dito sa aming lalawigan," the governor said.
[If we can compare this to our past experiences, this typhoon is really different. It is extremely strong. If you've seen the film 'Twister', it is like that. The winds almost toppled our rescue vans.]
Dy said the mayor of coastal town Maconacon also shared how the typhoon rattled their supposedly sturdy evacuation centers.
"Takot na takot ang ating mayor. Alas-2:30 po kami ng madaling araw kami magkausap kanina. Sabi niya, 'Gov, ganoo pa katagal itong bagyong ito dahil pakiramdam namin, iaangat na ang evacuation center," he said.
"Sobrang lakas talaga -- hindi lang napakatindi kundi napakahabang oras na binabayo ang aming lalawigan."
[Our mayor was petrified. We were talking on the phone at around 2:30 a.m. He told me, 'Gov, how long will this typhoon last because we feel it lifting our evacuation center.' It was really strong -- it was not only strong but also pounded our province for hours on end.]
Maconacan town lies adjacent to Peñablanca, Cagayan where Lawin made landfall at past 2:30 a.m., Dy said.
As of 5 a.m., 600 residents were still staying in Maconacon's evacuation centers.
Meanwhile, 208 people also evacuated in Palanan town,
1,305 in Dinapigue and 635 in Divilacan, Dy said.
The governor added that the number of evacuees was still rising due to ongoing forced evacuation measures. More families were also seeking safer ground after the typhoon tore the roofs off of their homes.
DZMM's Raya Capulong also reported that fallen trees and debris have rendered some roads impassable, including major bridges in the towns of Cauayan, Echague, Santa Maria, Reina Mercedes, Santo Tomas and Ilagan.
Dy said he has yet to receive damage reports, but there has been no recorded storm surges in the province so far.
State weather bureau PAGASA has downgraded Lawin's status from super typhoon to typhoon, after it weakened early Thursday.
At 5 a.m, it was only packing top sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour (kph) and gusts of 285 kph.
But the weather agency warned that Lawin's intense rains will continue to threaten Luzon with possible flash floods and landslides.
Visit the ABS-CBN Weather Center for the latest weather updates.
DZMM, weather, weather top, rains, Typhoon Haima, Typhoon Lawin, calamity, storm signal, PAGASA