23 fishermen are missing as the powerful Typhoon, Utor, slammed the northern Philippines early today, dumping heavy rains and toppling power lines. No casualties were reported.
The 23 fishermen are from Catanduanes, an island province in the Bicol region. Officials hoped that they took shelter in nearby islands.
Roofs were blown, and a covered basketball court was washed away in Dinalungan town. About 1,000 central Bicol region residents in the Aurora province were evacuated. Heavy rain hit Manila, but no major flooding has been reported.
Cargo ferries were grounded leaving more than 8,000 passengers stranded. Several domestic flights were canceled and classes in cities and towns, including the capital Manila was suspended.
Typhoon Utor is the strongest typhoon globally and has maximum sustained winds of 140 kph near the center and gusts of up to 210 kph, according to PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration). Widespread electrical power disruption is expected and moderate to heavy agricultural and industrial may be experienced.
Utor is the 12th of about 20 typhoons and storms expected to last the Philippines this year. It is forecasted to remain in the northern Philippines today before it moves at 19 kph across the main northern island of Luzon to South China Sea towards the direction of Guandong China tomorrow and is expected to make a land fall on Wednesday.
Moderate to heavy rain within its 500 km diameter is expected and will enhance the southwest monsoon bringing moderate to massive rains over Southern Luzon and Western Visayas. Residents were notified about storm surges, landslides and flash floods. Travel by sea is very risky and fishermen using small fishing boats were advised against venturing out to sea due to big waves.
Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas