AS predicted, strong winds and heavy rains brought about by typhoon Ompong pummeled Luzon early yesterday morning toppling trees and power lines, tearing off roofs and destroying lightly-built houses, but miraculously it started to leave the country with very minimal casualties.
Two casualties were reported in Cordillera region, both search-and-rescue personnel who were involved in operations to help residents affected by at least four landslides which hit the region. The names of the fatalities were not immediately identified.
In Metro Manila, National Capital Region Police Office chief, Director Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said all police districts were involved in massive rescue-and-relief operations. The Caloocan City Police Station also reported one casualty identified as Domingo Peñaflor, a 58-year-old security guard who died when the wall of a compound he was guarding along 304 Galera Street, 9th Avenue crushed pinning the victim to death 7:30 in the morning.
In Itogon, Benguet, at least three were reported dead while four went missing in a landslide. Reports said that the victims include a child who was buried under tons of rubble that swept their house in a small village in Itogon.
The victim’s mother was trapped underneath while her husband was pulled out from the ruins. Reports said that eight local rescuers who rushed to the scene were digging in the area when their backhoe crashed in loose soil. As a result, two of the workers also went missing while the six were rescued.
PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Benigno B. Durana Jr. said that as of 3:50 p.m., they have recorded three fatalities including a girl about 9-12 years old whose body was found floating off Marikina River.
Durana said two men survived an electrocution in Marikina City while two went missing as a result of landslides that hit Baguio City and Itogon, Benguet.
One good news however is that, according to Durana, they recorded no cases of killing or robbery in the country yesterday. “It seemed that even criminals stayed in their houses,” he said.
Officials were monitoring the situation in some areas in Northern Luzon and Cagayan Valley including in Baggao, Cagayan which is said to have been hardest hit by the storm which was described as a super typhoon before it made landfall.
The typhoon made landfall in the Cagayan region before dawn although the government was prepared for it having forcibly evacuated residents living in low-lying and landslide-prone areas to safer ground for fear of storm surges that could reach as high as six meters in some areas.
In a press briefing early yesterday morning Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said as a quick response to the typhoon Cabinet officials were prepositioned and ordered to take charge in areas within the typhoon’s track.
“Definitely po, dahil the presence of the alter-ego of the President, I think, has been beneficial, dahil everyone as far as the line agencies of the government are directly reporting to them now. They are going around and ensuring that we are at our best as far as disaster preparedness is concerned,” he said.