Ahead of typhoon, Philippines placed under ’state of calamity’ (Lead)

October 2nd, 2009 - 4:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Manila, Oct 2 (DPA) All of the Philippines was placed under a “state of calamity” Friday as Supertyphoon Parma moved closer to the country’s main island of Luzon, less than a week after tropical storm Ketsana wreaked havoc in the capital and outlying areas.
Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said the declaration was aimed at giving the government power to control prices of basic commodities and free up local emergency funds.

Local officials in the northern provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga supervised the evacuation of residents living near river banks and in low-lying areas that could be flooded when Parma hits the area, which is forecast Saturday, Teodoro said.

More than 2,000 residents were also evacuated in the eastern provinces of Albay and Camarines Norte, which were in the path of the storm.

Teodoro warned residents that those who refused to be evacuated should not expect to be rescued if they are trapped in floodwaters.

“Do not expect that we would risk lives in order to rescue them,” he said.

Nathaniel Cruz, chief weather bureau forecaster, said Parma is a strong typhoon and could be disastrous.

“It is hazardous,” he said. “It can create disaster. It is a very strong typhoon … that can bring very heavy damage to affected communities”.

Cruz warned that Parma could easily trigger floods in Manila, whose main rivers and tributaries were still swollen from the record rainfalls caused by Ketsana last weekend.

Thousands of passengers were stranded in the eastern Philippines after Coast Guard officials prevented small vessels from sailing because of rough seas. At least 26 domestic flights have been cancelled.

The weather bureau said Parma kept its strength throughout the day with sustained winds of 195 kilometres per hour and gusts of up to 230 kph.

Parma has also maintained its west-north-west course and was expected to make a landfall in the north-eastern province of Aurora at noon (0400 GMT) Saturday.

The weather bureau has placed at least 32 eastern and northern provinces on typhoon alert.

On Friday, government relief agencies were taking advantage of the lull in bad weather to rush relief supplies to more than 3 million people affected by Ketsana.

Several areas in Manila and the nearby provinces of Rizal, Laguna and Bulacan remained flooded.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council said the death toll from Ketsana rose to 293 with at least 42 people still missing.

The agency said the estimated damage to agriculture and infrastructure was 5.1 billion pesos ($108.16 million).

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