Philippines to brace for another whether disturbance

08:13, September 30, 2009      

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The Philippine government is planning to effect pre-emptive evacuation in flood and landslide prone areas as another whether disturbance is set to land the country on Friday, a senior official said on Tuesday.

"There is sense of extreme urgency that we prepare.... We'll just have to assume for the worst and prepare best as possible," Defense Secretary and National Disaster Coordinating Council Chairman Gilberto Teodoro Jr. told a press briefing.

He was referring to tropical storm "Peping," which has developed from low pressure area. As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, it was at about 1,280 km east of Mindanao with maximum winds of up to 65 kph and gustiness of up to 80 kph.

Moving at 11 kph west northwest towards Northern Luzon and Taiwan, "Peping" is expected to make a landfall either on Thursday or Friday at the extreme provinces of Luzon.

"What we want to do is for the local government to think it now," said Teodoro.

When asked if they still have enough time to effect the pre-emptive evacuation, he said, "I think we have to rush and I think let's put aside the question as to whether there is time but we have to do it as fast as possible."

"We have to assume that it will occur and plan for the worst. We believe the models that are being used (by PAGASA) is that it may turn toward Northern Luzon but then again there's gonna be rain. We cannot really be sure," said Teodoro.

The government is considering the pre-emptive evacuations as Metro Manila and 25 other provinces are recovering from the effects of tropical storm "Ondoy" (international code name "ketsana") that has left 246 people dead, 37 others missing and five others injured as of 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the NDCC said it has recorded 334,959 families or 1,939,729 people who have been affected by "Ondoy." Of the figure, 64,404 families or 319,547 people are staying in evacuation centers.

The cost of damages also rose to 4.69 billion pesos (about 98.87 million U.S. dollars), mostly from the agricultural sector which has so far pegged about 3.17 billion pesos (66.73 million U.S. dollars) in losses. Also, the NDCC reported that 3.272 houses were either totally or partially damaged.

Teodoro also said they are planning a one-day clean up, involving the other sectors of the society including the students, in Metro Manila. He said Malacanang is still in the process of determining the date of the event.

Source: Xinhua
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