Typhoon Pablo is strongest storm to hit Mindanao in two decades

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In anticipation of Typhoon Bopha, rescuers prepare equipment in Davao City, on the southern island of Mindanao. More than 53,000 people have moved into nearly 1,000 government shelters, the civil defence office says

Rescuers prepare equipment to deal with the fallout from powerful Typhoon Bopha in Davao City

With maximum sustained winds that reached 185 kph, Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) is the strongest storm to hit Mindanao in two decades, PAGASA said Tuesday.

“Base sa nakalap naming data, ang Typhoon Pablo ang pinakamalakas (na tumama sa Mindanao),” state weather forecaster Jori Loiz told GMA News Online. “Hindi pa namin naa-assess 'yung mga sumusunod sa lakas.”

He noted that very few tropical cycles hit Mindanao in a year.

“Non-comparable si Sendong dahil tropical storm lang siya,” he added.

Sendong, considered as one of the deadliest cyclones

to enter the country in 12 years, hit Mindanao in December last year leaving 1,257 people dead and P1.6 billion damage in agriculture and properties.

He said they are now studying Pablo which he described as “very unusual.”

“Subject for further research is Pablo. Very unusual si Pablo sa formation. Inaalam namin kung bakit nagform at nag-intesify siya below five degrees latitude. Tinitingnan din namin kung ano ang nag-sustain sa kanya kasi nag- stationary then moved westward,” Loiz said.

He said a cyclone as strong as Pablo could uproot trees and destroy houses made of light materials.

PAGASA earlier said Typhoon Pablo may bring rainfall of 15 to 30 mm per hour (heavy to intense) within its 600-km diameter.

Pablo made landfall

in Davao Oriental before 5 a.m. Tuesday packed with maximum sustained winds of 175 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 210 kph.

Despite Pablo's intensity, Loiz expects lower fatalities and damage to properties than that caused by Sendong.

“Kaya malaki ang pinsala noon e hindi handa ang tao, hindi aware. Isa pa, gabi tumama si Sendong, tulog ang mga tao nung biglang tumaas ang tubig,” he said.

“Ngayon, nag-warning kami one week before pa. Handa na ang mga tao. Isa pa, kung tatama siya sa Cagayan River, wala na halos mga bahay dun,” Loiz added.

At least 7,011 Mindanao residents or 1,303 families from Regions 10, 11 and 13 were evacuated hours before Pablo made landfall. Forced evacuations were also carried out in Lingig and Hinatuan late Monday.

Two fatalities

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said at least two residents in Mindanao were reported dead due to bad weather conditions brought by Pablo.

NDRRMC head Benito Ramos said they received reports that the latest fatality was killed after being crushed by a falling tree.

"May nakamotor, nadaganan ng kahoy habang nakamotor sa kalsada (sa) Misamis Oriental," he said in an interview on dzBB radio.

He said the initial reports reaching him identified the fatality as Jigger Gumunit, 30.

A 50-year-old woman in Manay town in Davao Oriental, meanwhile, was killed after a coconut tree fell on her.

Ramos also said a landslide was reported in New Bataan in Compostela Valley but there was no initial report of casualties.

Also, he said power remained knocked out in Davao Oriental and Surigao del Sur.

Elsewhere in Mindanao, the power outage caused by Typhoon Pablo prompted residents in Cagayan de Oro City to flock to hotels.

Many of the relatively well-off checked in at hotels even as there was no timetable on when power would be restored, radio dzBB reported.

Some malls in the city were open but had few visitors for the day, the report added.

Power was knocked out in parts of Mindanao on Monday night, and in other parts of the island before dawn Tuesday.

Loiz said Pablo is expected to be outside the Philippine area of responsibility Friday as it moves slower at 20 kph.

“Bumagal siya. Kanina 20 kph na lang kaya made-delay ang paglabas pero 'yun ay kung hindi magbabago ang kanyang bilis at direksyon,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Pablo was moving at 26 kph and is expected to be 180 km southwest of Roxas City by Wednesday morning.

He added that Metro Manila should expect rains Wednesday night still due to Pablo. —KG, GMA News