Philippines battens down the hatches for Mangkhut

Officials emphasized the need for evacuation in coastal areas as they warned that Mangkhut may generate a storm surge of up to six meters high. (Reuters)
Updated 14 September 2018
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Philippines battens down the hatches for Mangkhut

  • Mangkhut is expected to make landfall over the northern island of Luzon early on Saturday
  • The typhoon is expected to cause widespread damage to infrastructure and agriculture

MANILA: Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte led a conference on Thursday to ensure that the country is prepared for the powerful typhoon heading toward it.

Authorities started the evacuation of thousands of residents in coastal and landslide-prone areas ahead of the arrival of typhoon Mangkhut (local name Ompong), described as the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines so far this year.

The state weather bureau said Mangkhut, which is expected to make landfall over Cagayan-Isabela province early on Saturday, has a diameter of 900 km, can reach peak intensity of around 220 kph maximum sustained winds and gusts of up to 270 kph. 

At the command conference the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported that an estimated 4.3 million individuals are exposed within the 250 km radius of the storm. 

Many of these people will probably be evacuated, NDRRMC Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad said, noting that 800,000 of the population are living in poverty. Within this corridor, some 47,000 houses are made of light materials.

Officials emphasized the need for evacuation in coastal areas as they warned that Mangkhut may generate a storm surge of up to 6 meters high. Fishermen and those with small sea craft were also advised not to venture to sea. 

The NDRRMC said that rapid deployment teams are on standby for possible rescue operations, while local government units (LGUs) are enjoined to prepare their own contingency plans. 

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has put eight teams on alert. The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) also placed some of their personnel and vessels on standby for deployment to conduct sea search and rescue operation if needed.

In the same conference, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol reported the projected effect of the typhoon on agriculture. 

According to Piñol, some 1,220,000 hectares of rice and corn alone will be affected by, which may result to losses in rice amounting to about P3.6 billion ($66.7 million). In worst case scenario, the losses in rice may reach up to P7.9 billion.

Estimated damage in corn is P2.7 billion, and in worst case scenario P3 billion.

In spite of this, Piñol assured Duterte there will still be a sufficient supply of rice. He added they have likewise advised farmers to harvest crops that are ready. The agriculture department will also position hauling trucks for animal evacuation.

Meanwhile, the president stressed the need for constant communication between government agencies and to prepare for any eventuality in times of crisis. “In a crisis you have to reckon with the Murphy’s Law. We have estimates and we have the projections, the reckonings and all but it ain’t there until it is there,” Duterte said.

He then suggested the use of one dedicated radio channel for all government agencies, including the defense department, and another for the military and police for central communications, as he pointed out that cellular networks can breakdown during disasters.


Pelosi urges support for resolution to block border wall emergency

Updated 32 min 2 sec ago
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Pelosi urges support for resolution to block border wall emergency

  • Trump announced the emergency in order to bypass Congress
  • Sixteen states earlier this week sued over the declaration, but the Trump administration has continued with its plans

WASHINGTON: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday called upon lawmakers to back a resolution to halt the national emergency declared by US President Donald Trump to fund a wall on the southern border with Mexico.
Trump announced the emergency in order to bypass Congress, which approved only a quarter of the $5.6 billion he wanted for the wall in a spending bill.
Sixteen states earlier this week sued over the declaration, but the Trump administration has continued with plans to pull together around a further $6.6 billion in federal funding, mostly from the Department of Defense.
Texas congressman Joaquin Castro had last week vowed to introduce a resolution to terminate the president’s move.
Lawmakers have until 3:00 p.m. (2000 GMT) on Thursday to co-sponsor it, before it is formally introduced on Friday.
“I write to invite all Members of Congress to cosponsor Congressman Joaquin Castro’s privileged resolution,” Pelosi said in a letter to Democrats and Republicans late Wednesday.”
“The President’s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated,” she said.
“We have a solemn responsibility to uphold the Constitution, and defend our system of checks and balances against the President’s assault.
Democrats were quick to express their support.
“I’m a YES to overturn the declaration,” Democratic Senator Brian Schatz tweeted.
Meanwhile, House Democrat Linda Sanchez, of California, said she was “proud” to support Castro’s resolution.