‘Ursula’ further weakens, likely to exit PAR on Saturday

Marje Pelayo   •   December 26, 2019   •   237

MANILA, Philippines – State weather service PAGASA forecast slight weakening of Typhoon Ursula (International name Phanfone) as it further moves west-northwestward over the West Philippine Sea.

As of 10:00 AM Thursday (December 26), the weather system was located at 235 km Northwest of Coron, Palawan with maximum sustained winds of 120 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 150 kph.

Still, tropical cyclone wind signals (TCWS) #1 remains hoisted over the northwestern portion of Occidental Mindoro including Lubang Island and Calamian Islands where winds of up to 30 to 60 kph is expected to prevail in 36 hours.

Residents in these areas are advised to take appropriate measures for possible landslides and flashfloods while sea travel remains at high risk over the seaboards of areas under Signal #1 due to rough sea conditions.

Meanwhile, PAGASA already lifted for Bataan, Cavite, Batangas, Oriental Mindoro, the rest of Occidental Mindoro, and the rest of extreme northern Palawan.

Through the day, light to moderate with intermittent heavy rains will prevail over northern portion of Palawan including Calamian Islands and Lubang Island.

Central Luzon, Metro Manila, Rizal, and Northern Quezon, likewise, will experience cloudy skies with scattered rains.

According to PAGASA, Ursula is expected to exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Saturday (28 December) morning.

PHL, Chinese Coast Guard hold joint maritime drills in Manila

Robie de Guzman   •   January 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard and Chinese Coast Guard on Wednesday conducted joint maritime drills on search and rescue and combating fire at sea in the waters off the Philippine capital.

In a statement, the PCG said participating Filipino and Chinese personnel were given a scenario involving a vessel that caught fire while transiting Manila waters.

In response, the PCG deployed its 44-meter multi-role response vessel 4401, BRP Tubbataha, while the Chinese team dispatched vessel 5204. Both ships were equipped with water cannons used in firefighting assistance.

Five passengers and eight crew aboard the distressed ship were also rescued using rigid hull inflatable boats with rescue swimmers to aid the victims.

The PCG said the drill allows coast guard personnel to exercise interoperability and strengthen their capabilities in responding to such crises.

The joint maritime drills on search and rescue, and combating fire at sea are part of the week-long activities of Chinese Coast Guard’s port call in Manila.

The visit aims to strengthen understanding, mutual trust, and cooperation between the Philippines and China Coast Guard in a bid to promote maritime security and maritime law enforcement amid the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

Wife of missing fisherman in Occ. Mindoro calls for help from LGU

Marje Pelayo   •   January 3, 2020

Alvin Bantugan

MANILA, Philippines – Authorities are still looking for Alvin Bantugan, a crew of F/B Gemver 1, more than a week after the onset of Typhoon Ursula in Occidental Mindoro.

According to his wife Hazel, he was looking after their motor banca when large waves came ashore and washed him away along with the sea vessel.

“Kalmang kalma iyon, tapos biglang dalawang bugso (The sea was calm that day. Suddenly, the waves went wild),” she said.

“Doon po siya naanod, sa unahan daw po siya ng bangkang GemVer 1. Bigla na lang po iyong tumaob. Bukod tangi po siyang hindi nakikita sa mga tauhan, (That’s when he was washed away. The motor banca turned upside down over him. He was the only one left missing),” she added.

Aside from his missing husband, Hazel is also worried because no one would help her repair the damages caused by the typhoon to their house.

“Sana po matulungan ni Mayor kami na makita ang aking asawa, (I pray that our Mayor can help us search for my husband),” she asked.

“At matulungan niya ako dahil sira pa rin po ang aking bahay (I also ask for help in the repair my house,)” she added.

F/B Gemver 1 was the same sea vessel involved in the controversial maritime incident with a Chinese vessel in West Philippine Sea last year.

It took five months to repair the vessel’s damage before it was able to venture out again at sea. – MNP (with reports from Von San Pedro)

Typhoon ‘Ursula’ leaves 47 dead, 9 still missing

Marje Pelayo   •   December 30, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The death toll from Typhoon Ursula has climbed to 47 while 9 others remain missing.

Meanwhile, a total of 143 individuals were injured, according to authorities.

Based on the latest data gathered by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), more than a million families (1.979M) were affected by the weather system.

Also, a total of 27, 263 families remain in evacuation centers.

Typhoon Ursula has left more than one billion pesos-worth of damage to agriculture and infrastructure.

Because of the extent of damage, 10 municipalities are now under a state of calamity, specifically the town of San Jose in Occidental Mindoro; Kalibo in Aklan; Libertad in Antique; Sigma in Capiz; Carles and Concepcion in Iloilo.

Also, under a state of calamity are the cities of Madridejos in Cebu; Borongan in Eastern Samar; Tacloban City in Leyte; and Daram in Samar.

Meanwhile, the government is currently working on providing the needs of those affected by the typhoon. MNP (with details from Vincent Arboleda)

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