Storm : Bebeng

MANILA, Philippines - Five provinces were placed under storm signal No. 2 yesterday by the state weather bureau ahead of tropical storm "Bebeng" as it moves closer to the country.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) placed the provinces of Sorsogon, Albay, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes and Northern Samar under signal No. 2 after tropical depression Bebeng intensified into a tropical storm at 4 p.m. yesterday.
The provinces of Masbate, Camarines Norte, Quezon, Aurora, Marinduque, Polillo Island, Ticao Island, and Burias Island were placed under storm signal No. 1.
As of 4 p.m. Bebeng (international code name "Aere") was spotted 220 kilometers east of Legaspi City in Albay, directly threatening the Bicol region.
The storm was moving at 13 kilometers per hour (kph) and had maximum sustained winds of 65 kph, moving in the northwest direction.
By Sunday afternoon, Bebeng would be 60 kms northeast of Daet, Camarines Norte and by Monday afternoon, it would be 110 kms north of Baler or 70 kms south of Tuguegarao City.
The storm is expected to pass 190 km northwest of Aparri, Cagayan, or 200 kms west southwest of Basco, Batanes.
Weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said Bebeng could intensify further since it is gathering strength while moving slowly at sea.
"There is a possibility that Bebeng might make land fall either Monday or Tuesday in Baler, Aurora province," he said.
Aurelio added the storm would not directly hit Metro Manila, but it would bring light to moderate rains.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), on the other hand, issued flashflood and landslide warnings in the Bicol region and Eastern Visayas over the rains brought about by the approaching storm.
"Residents living in low lying and mountainous areas under signal No. 1 are alerted against possible flashfloods and landslides," NDRRMC executive director and Office of Civil Defense (OCD) administrator Benito Ramos said.?Ramos also advised local disaster officials to take appropriate precautionary measures such as ordering the pre-emptive evacuation of families in low-lying and mountainous areas if necessary.?Albay Gov. Joey Salceda has ordered some residents on the east coast to prepare as the storm approaches.
Salceda has also advised city and municipal disaster risk reduction management councils on the eastern seaboard to monitor the rate of rainfall.?"They must also prepare for emergency evacuation of residents who are living near steep slopes due to landslides and for residents in low-lying areas for flashfloods," Salceda said. ?"Coastal barangays should monitor and prepare against possible storm surges," he added.
The regional military led by Maj. Gen. Joshue Gaverza Jr. has also ordered the search and rescue group of the Army's 9th Division to make preparations for possible evacuation.
Even as the storm approaches the Bicol region, thousands of commuters were left stranded yesterday after the Coast Guard implemented the no-sail policy as a precautionary measure.
Ten domestic flights were also cancelled due to the approaching storm.
Lt. Laurence Tamayo, operations officer of the Coast Guard in the Bicol region, said they have to prevent passenger ships and vessels from leaving the 13 ports in the region because of heavy rains and big waves.
Tamayo said a total of 784 passengers, 14 buses, eight trucks, seven cars, and four sea vessels were stranded in Matnog port in Sorsogon.
In Bulan port, 116 passengers were stranded along with four passenger buses, four trucks, and two vessels.
At Pilar, 150 people, six motorized bancas and one vessel were stranded, all in bound for the Visayas region or Masbate.
Tamayo said that 421 passengers, four buses, 23 trucks, nine cars and four sea vessels were held at Tabaco City port; 10 people, and two motorized bancas in Legazpi City port; 65 people in Pioduran port; and three sea vessels in Rapu-Rapu, all in Albay; 135 persons in Sabang, and 52 in Pasacao, all in Camarines Sur; 37 passengers, five trucks, three cars, and two vessels in San Andres port; and four trucks, one bus and two vessels in Virac, both in Catanduanes; and 27 passengers, two cars and one vessel in Milagros and Cataingan in Masbate.
Four flights of Cebu Pacific bound for Manila were cancelled, as well as two flights each of Airphil Express, Zest Air and Philippine Airlines. – With Jaime Laude, Cet Dematera, Rudy Santos, John Unson, Celso Amo


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