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  • Philippines Mobilizes Armed Forces for Second Storm in a Week
    Thursday, October 1, 2009
    By Aaron Sheldrick and Francisco Alcuaz Jr.

    Oct. 1 (Bloomberg) -- The Philippines mobilized its armed forces as Supertyphoon Parma headed for the country, threatening more heavy rains a week after Tropical Storm Ketsana devastated parts of Manila in Luzon and left 277 people dead.

    The Navy has assembled a task force in northern Luzon, where Philippine forecasters expect Parma to make landfall on Oct. 3, spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo said in a phone interview. The Air Force will send trucks and rubber boats to facilitate evacuations when local officials request them, Air Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Gerardo Zamudio said.

    Parma’s winds increased to 241 kilometers (150 miles) per hour today, according to the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center, making it a Category 4 storm, the second-strongest on the Saffir-Simpson scale. It’s forecast to get stronger before making landfall, according to the center.

    The government “should prepare for the worst,” said Jose Bersales, emergency affairs director of World Vision Philippines, which is providing food and aid to 20,000 survivors of Ketsana.

    The Philippines weather agency, which refers to Parma as Pepeng, raised its No. 1 storm signal for areas of southeastern Luzon today, meaning winds of between 30 and 60 kph are expected. A gale warning was issued for islands to the southeast of Luzon.

    Parma was 516 kilometers east of the city of Tacloban at 2 p.m. local time, the U.S. center said. Tacloban is 575 kilometers southeast of Manila. Parma’s winds were gusting to 296 kph and waves near the eye are as high as 9 meters (29 feet), according to the U.S. center.

    Catastrophic Damage

    Navy forecasters designated Parma as a supertyphoon when its wind speed reached 240 kph. Its winds are forecast to strengthen to 259 kph by 2 p.m. tomorrow, making it a Category 5 storm, the strongest rating.

    Such storms are capable of causing “catastrophic damage” and can blow roofs off residential and industrial buildings, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

    The Navy’s five-day forecast indicates Parma will cross Luzon and head toward Taiwan, where more than 600 people were killed in August when Typhoon Morakot blew across the island.

    To the east of Parma, Tropical Storm Melor strengthened to a typhoon with winds of 194 kph, according to the Navy center.

    Melor was 809 kilometers east of the U.S. territory of Guam at 2 p.m. Manila time today, the typhoon center said. The storm was moving west-northwest at 17 kph.

    The storm’s winds are forecast to strengthen to 213 kph within 24 hours. The Navy’s forecast track shows it crossing the island chain of Saipan north of Guam and heading toward the southern islands of Japan during the next five days.

    Assessing Needs

    The United Nations which is assessing needs before appealing for aid for damage from Tropical Storm Ketsana, said it is preparing for Parma. The children’s fund and World Food Program are stockpiling goods as well.

    “All the UN agencies involved in the emergency response, including UNICEF and WFP, are gearing up and replenishing stocks of emergency supplies so that they can respond quickly to any intensification of the emergency,” UN resident coordinator Jacqui Baddock said in an e-mail. “Another onslaught of wind and rain will test many of the departments and agencies involved.”

    Ketsana blew across Luzon on Sept. 26 dumping a month’s worth of rain in six hours and flooding most of Manila and surrounding areas.

    Death Toll Rises

    The death toll increased after reaching 246 yesterday, the Philippines disaster council said in its latest report today. More than 2.5 million people were affected by Ketsana and 686,699 are in evacuation centers. Forty-two people are missing.

    The Philippine government has declared a “state of calamity” for the Manila metropolitan region and other parts of Luzon island as well as Mindoro island to the south.

    “Pre-emptive evacuations will start with the local governments when there is certainty that it will hit,” Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro told reporters in Manila yesterday.

    Ketsana smashed into central Vietnam two days ago as a typhoon with winds of 167 kph, killing at least 92 people in the country. Nineteen people are missing.

    The storm left at least 14 people dead in Cambodia after crossing Vietnam, Agence France-Presse reported today.

    Ketsana is the name of a tree in Laos, according to the Hong Kong Observatory, which lists names in use for Pacific storms on its Web site. Parma is the name of a ham and chicken dish in Macau.

    bloomberg
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Londen time 7:26 PM  
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