MASS EVACUATIONS, AIRLINES CANCELLATIONS IN U.S. AHEAD OF MEGA-STORM 'SANDY' / 'OFEL' LEAVES PHL WITH 27 DEAD; STATE OF CALAMITY



[PHOTO -An image from NOAA's GOES satellite shows Hurricane Sandy off of the East coast of the US. US authorities ordered coastal evacuations and airlines canceled transatlantic flights on Sunday as Hurricane Sandy bore down on the east coast after claiming 66 lives in the Caribbean]
 
HONOLULU, OCTOBER 29, 2012
(YAHOO NEWS)
AFP By Mariano Rolando - US authorities ordered coastal evacuations and airlines canceled transatlantic flights on Sunday as Hurricane Sandy bore down on the east coast after claiming 66 lives in the Caribbean.

Forecasters warned of catastrophic impacts from the mid-Atlantic to southern New England as the historic storm crashes ashore late Monday or early Tuesday, with New Jersey and New York City bracing for particularly dangerous conditions.

Nine days out from election day, the hurricane also threw the US presidential contest into disarray as Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney cancelled events and prepared for the unexpected fallout.

Torrential rain and high waves battered South and North Carolina as the storm moved up the coast. The US meteorological service warned that New Jersey and New York could see record flooding because of the storm surge.

Sandy, which is packing hurricane force winds upwards of 75 miles per hour (120 kilometers per hour), has already claimed at least 66 lives in the Caribbean, most of them in Haiti, where 51 people were reported killed.

New York authorities issued an evacuation order for hundreds of thousands of people in low-lying coastal towns on Sandy's projected route. About 1,100 national guard troops were to be deployed in the towns and villages.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a mandatory evacuation order for 375,000 people in the city alone, including the threatened coastal zones of Coney Island and Staten Island.

The city was to open 72 shelters in schools and other buildings. It ordered subway, buses and commuter trains to close down from Sunday night. "This is a serious and dangerous storm," Bloomberg told a news conference.

At the city's Rockaway Beach, inhabitants started putting up sand bags on Saturday and many said they would brave out the storm as they did with Hurricane Irene last year.

Delaware and New Jersey also issued evacuation orders. Authorities ordered gambling to halt in Atlantic City from Sunday.

Airlines have cancelled hundreds of flights into airports along the US east coast.

Air France cancelled all flights into New York and Washington on Monday while US airlines have called off hundreds of domestic flights. New York airports were to stay open on Sunday but the airport authority warned passengers to expect disruption.

At 1500 GMT, Sandy was about 575 miles (930 kilometers) south of New York, the US National Hurricane Center said.

Though still far out at sea, the massive storm was spinning off high winds and seas for hundreds of miles around.

Television images from North Carolina's Outer Banks, a chain of low lying islands, showed wild surf and torrential rain.

Hurricane force winds were expected to batter a huge section of the US east coast from Virginia to Massachusetts.

Current projections show the storm making landfall early Tuesday on the Delaware coast, then bending north and inland as it merges with a cold front descending from Canada.

Weather experts say that the collision of Sandy with a cold front from the north could create a super-charged storm bringing floods, high winds and even heavy snow across a swath of eastern states and as far inland as Ohio.

Meteorologists have nicknamed the phenomenon a "Frankenstorm" because it is due to hit just before Halloween on October 31 and is composed of parts from different sources, as was Frankenstein's monster.

Governors declared states of emergency in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, the US capital Washington and parts of North Carolina.

"Sandy will be more like a large nor'easter on steroids," wrote Alex Sosnowski, a senior meteorologist for Accuweather.com, who said it could lead to billions of dollars in damage.

FROM PHILSTAR

'Ofel' death toll hits 27; 4 areas under state of calamity By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) Updated October 29, 2012 12:00 AMComments (0)


[PHOTO -Manila: A powerful tropical storm in the Philippines has left 27 people dead, authorities said Saturday. Son-Tinh has wrecked havoc in three northern provinces. Nine people were missing, the national disaster risk reduction and management council ( NDRRMC) said. Of the 27 victims, 15 were killed by drowning, while others were killed after they were hit by fallen trees, electrocution and landslide, as per reported. About 66,800 people were affected, and the economic loss was estimated at around 55 million pesos (about $1.3 million).]

MANILA, Philippines - Tropical storm “Ofel” has left 27 people dead and displaced more than 11,000 others, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said yesterday.

NDRRMC executive director Benito Ramos said nine of the fatalities were from Mimaropa region (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), eight from Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), five from SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos), two each from Bicol and Central Visayas, and one from Eastern Visayas.

The latest fatalities were identified as Redon Dote, 13, of Batangas City, and John Michael Castillo, 2, of Bulan, Sorsogon, who both drowned during the onslaught of the storm.

An unidentified female corpse was also recovered in San Juan, Batangas, but local officials decided to bury it last Friday because it was already bloated and decomposing.

The bad weather also hurt 19 people while nine others were reported missing.

The NDRRMC said Ofel (international name Son-tinh) affected some 14,667 families composed of 70,616 persons. Of thae number, 2,530 families or 11,430 individuals are still in 63 evacuation centers.

The storm damaged more than P55 million worth of agriculture and infrastructure projects in Mimaropa and Bicol, and destroyed 603 houses.

Four areas have been placed under a state of calamity including Lobo town in Batangas, Oriental Mindoro, and the municipalities of Buug and Imelda both in Zamboanga Sibugay.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and various local government units have released a total of P6.37 million to help the victims.

In North Cotabato, the search and rescue operations continued for two missing farmers whose houses were swept away by raging floodwater in a low-lying village in Tulunan town Saturday.

The victims, John Barrentos and Bonifacio Calan, both of Sitio Sambulan, Barangay Bakong, have yet to be found as of press time. At least 30 houses were destroyed by the flood.

The victims’ families, who are sheltered at an evacuation center in Tulunan proper along with other displaced residents, were still waiting for updates from the members of the search and rescue team.

One of the evacuees, Delia Casel, 70, said heavy downpour brought by Ofel caused the Bakong River to swell and submerged Sitio Sambulan and other parts of their community. – With Ramil Bajo


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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