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Pagasa warns of destructive winds

By NITZ ARANCON
with EDWIN IYO, Correspondents
and FROILAN GALLARDO
Special Correspondent .

THE Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) yesterday warned of potentially destructive winds today and in the days ahead as a result of weather systems directly affecting Luzon that have been enhancing the southwest monsoon in Mindanao.

So far, strong winds this week brought down power lines in the western parts of Misamis Oriental up to Talakag in Bukidnon, resulting in hours of blackout.

A passenger ferry from Camiguin also ran aground near Lapinig Island in Balingoan town in Misamis Oriental after being buffeted by strong winds and huge waves on Monday afternoon.

Jose Frivaldo, a weather specialist at the Pagasa station in El Salvador City, said moderate to strong winds could be experienced Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental and other areas in Mindanao in the coming days.

Frivaldo said the winds could move at eight meters per second or even faster. That kind of gustiness, he said, could be destructive especially in areas with trees and near the sea.

Pagasa said the “normal” wind blows at two to give meters per second.

Another Pagasa weather specialist, Luz Mercado, said winds, similar to what was experienced in the city and Misamis Oriental on Monday afternoon, could result in damages to property and even death.

Mercado cited the strong monsoon winds that started to blow at around 12:24 pm on Monday. She said the gusty winds had a speed of 15 meters per second or the equivalent of 54 kilometers per hour.

Monday’s strong winds, she said, were like the winds resulting from a tropical depression.

“Ang standard wind speed sa tropical depression, 35 to 61 kilometers per hour. Kadto kay 54 kph man. So, na-a gyud siya with in sa range sa tropical  depression,” Mercado said.

She said such winds pose serious threats at sea.

“Ingon niadto ka kusog sa hangin,  dagko sab ang bal-od. Piligro gihapon sa mga sakyanan sa dagat,” she said.

Monday’s strong winds brought down a number of lines of the Misamis Oriental I Rural Electric Service Cooperative in western part of the province up to Talakag town in Bukidnon, said Moresco I  institutional services department manager Edna Diango.

It took hours for Moresco I linemen to restore the power supply in affected areas.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office said strong winds also factored in a near sea tragedy in the waters off Balingoan town on Monday.

A ferry ran aground, prompting fishermen in Balingoan to band together and conduct rescue operations. They saved 63 passengers, including five children and 16 crewmembers.

All the passengers and crew members were rescued safely at around 6:40 pm Monday, said provincial disaster risk reduction management office chief Fernando Vince Dy.

“The passengers and crew members were taken  off the ship one by one by a flotilla of fishermens’ boats,” Dy said.

The ferry, Super Shuttle 1 owned by Asian Marine Transport Corp., left the port in Benoni, Camiguin, past 12 noon when it encountered strong winds and huge waves midway to Balingoan port.

Dy said the ferry was near Balingoan port when it ran aground near Lapinig Island.

He said two other vessels had tried to pull the Super Shuttle 1 to port but failed when the cables broke.

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