‘Glenda’ kills 38; new LPA spotted in Mindanao

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

MANILA (3rd Update) -- Typhoon Glenda (Rammasun), which barreled through the northern Philippines, left at least 38 people dead and knocked out power in entire provinces and forced more than half a million people to flee its lethal wind and rains, officials said Thursday.

Most businesses, malls and banks in Manila reopened a day after Glenda left the country but schools remained closed Thursday as workers cleaned up storm debris, which littered roads around this capital, slowing traffic.

The eye of the typhoon made a late shift away from Manila on Wednesday, but its peak winds of 150 kilometers per hour (kph) and gusts up to 185 kph toppled trees and electric posts and ripped off roofs across the capital.

Although Glenda packed far less power than Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), haunting memories of last year's horrific storm devastation prompted many villagers to rapidly move.

More than 500,000 of over one million people affected by the typhoon fled to emergency shelters in about a dozen provinces and Manila, said Alexander Pama, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.

Pama said at least 38 people died in the wake of the typhoon and 10 were reported missing.

Authorities said most of casualties were hit by falling trees or concrete walls or by flying debris. One volunteer firefighter who was hauling down a Philippine flag in suburban Pasig city was killed by a concrete block, said Francis Tolentino, chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

Electricity has been restored to most of the capital's 12 million people, but large swaths of provinces southeast of Manila, which bore the brunt of the typhoon, still had no power, Pama said.

Specifically, the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) said on Twitter that power in 65 percent of its franchise area has been restored.

Meralco distributes power to the country's economic center, Metro Manila, and some parts of the provinces of Rizal, Cavite, Pampanga, Laguna, Quezon and Batangas. It also deployed 3,400 personnel for power restoration efforts.

The Department of Education (DepEd), for its part, reported that there were 115 school divisions in 12 regions affected by the typhoon. Over 50 school divisions have resumed classes and operations.

A total of 187 schools have been used as evacuation centers even before Glenda visited the country, DepEd said.

“DepEd division offices are in constant coordination with their respective local government units (LGUs) for clearing operations and class resumption. The department is also initiating rapid damage assessments in affected areas,” it added.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said his city staged anti-disaster drills two weeks ago to prepare and was relieved that only a few residents were injured. There was relatively little flooding in the Philippine capital.

At Manila's international airport, the left wing of a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 was damaged after powerful gusts pushed it against a bridge passageway, manager Angel Honrado said. No one was injured.

Pama said the typhoon destroyed more than 7,000 houses and damaged more than 19,000. About $1 million in infrastructure was destroyed and at least $14 million in crops and livestock were lost, he said.

Mayor Cherilie Mella Sampal of Polangui town in Albay, one of the hardest hit provinces southeast of Manila, said 10,000 of her 80,000 constituents, abandoned their homes before the typhoon, many worried after witnessing Yolanda's deadly aftermath in the central Philippines last November.

At least 6,300 people died and more than 1,000 were left missing from Yolanda, one of the most ferocious typhoons to hit land.

Although Glenda slightly weakened as it scythed across the country's main northern Luzon Island, it may strengthen over the South China Sea before reaching either Vietnam or southern China, according to government forecasters.

Another weather disturbance is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) within 24 hours, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said on Thursday.

Pagasa weather forecaster Chris Perez said all public storm warning signal due to Glenda has been lifted and the typhoon is not expected to return in the country but sea travel remains risky over the western seaboards of Luzon due to strong to gale force winds associated with Typhoon Glenda.

Perez said a low-pressure area (LPA) was spotted Thursday morning at 970 km east of northern Mindanao.

"It is expected to enter PAR within the day but it will not directly affect the country," he said.

Perez said the said LPA has a high chance of developing in to a tropical cyclone since it was located in the sea.

If ever the LPA will intensify into a tropical cyclone, it will be named "Henry," the eighth weather disturbance to enter the country this year and third for the month of July.

About 20 typhoons and storms lash the archipelago on the western edge of the Pacific each year, making it one of the world's most disaster-prone countries. (AP/Third Anne Peralta/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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