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Saturday, October 3

Philippines spared Parma's worst. Now we race the winds again. It doesn't have to be a fancy prayer. Just try. (UPDATED)

2:45 AM EDT: Parma didn't entirely spare the Philippines. Whole lot of trouble over there in the Asian Pacific -- earthquake, typhoons, tsunami. AP report:
2nd typhoon lashes northern Philippines
By ROHAN SULLIVAN (AP) – 59 minutes ago

MANILA, Philippines — Powerful winds toppled power poles and trees Saturday in the northern Philippines as the second typhoon in eight days bore down on the country. Farther north, Taiwan began evacuating villages also in the path of the storm.

The Philippines is still reeling from a Sept. 26 typhoon that caused the worst flooding in 40 years, killing 288. Officials said the risk of another major disaster was easing because the new storm, Typhoon Parma, had changed direction slightly and was no longer headed for heavily populated regions of the main island of Luzon.

But heavy rain was falling across a swath of Luzon that is still flooded, and violent winds were battering the far-north province of Cagayan.

Trees were uprooted and power pylons toppled in the provincial capital of Tuguegarao, local government official Bonifacio Cuarteros told The Associated Press by telephone.

"We pray that we won't have a worse outcome, but with this kind of situation, we cannot really say," he said.

Parma was due to strike the Philippines' northeastern tip on Saturday night, instead of hitting north-central Luzon on Saturday afternoon, as earlier forecast. It was packing sustained winds that had also weakened slightly, to 108 mph (175 kph), down from 121 mph (195 kph) on Friday.

The better news for the Philippines was bad news for Taiwan, which issued a storm warning and began moving people out of villages in the southern county of Kaohsiung, said local official Lin Chun-chieh. Flash flooding from the last typhoon to hit the Kaohsiung killed about 700 people in August.

Typhoon Ketsana last month damaged the homes of more than 3 million people in the Philippines. It went on to hit other Southeast Asian countries, killing 99 in Vietnam, 14 in Cambodia and 16 in Laos.

It was part of more than a week of destruction in the Asia-Pacific region that has claimed more than 1,500 lives so far: an earthquake Wednesday in Indonesia; a tsunami Tuesday in the Samoan islands; and Typhoon Ketsana across Southeast Asia.
Oct. 3 (Bloomberg):
Typhoon Parma shifted course and weakened last night, reducing its effect on Manila and the southern part of the Philippine island of Luzon. It’s forecast to make landfall in northern Luzon later today before heading toward Taiwan.

The respite will help government officials and relief organizations to deal with the effects of Tropical Storm Ketsana, which flooded Manila and surrounding provinces a week ago, forcing more than 800,000 to abandon their homes. Schools, many used as evacuation and relief operation centers, were shut all week. Some areas remain flooded while others, including Marikina in eastern Manila, are mired in as much as two feet of mud.

“It’s a big help, we weren’t ready for another catastrophe,” Marikina Mayor Marides Fernando said in a phone interview. “Prayers worked; everyone was praying. We can go back to our homes.” Most of the municipality’s 10,000 remaining evacuees may be home before Monday, allowing schools to reopen.

Parma is now traveling in a northwesterly direction instead of a west-northwest path, Philippine weather bureau Director Nathaniel Cruz said in a phone interview. Parma was 370 kilometers (230 miles) northeast of Manila at 4 a.m. local time, according to the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Parma’s winds decreased to 185 kilometers per hour from 222 kilometers per hour.

Canceled Signal

The bureau canceled the public storm signal over Manila and some surrounding provinces and reduced the signal to No. 1 from No. 2 in the Bicol region southeast of Manila.

In Catanduanes, the province nearest to Parma’s path last night, “the wind wasn’t devastating,” Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Basco, the local Army commander there, said in a phone interview. “Even our squad tents didn’t fly off. If it didn’t affect our tents, more so houses.”

While landslides partially blocked roads in three villages, many of the 6,000 persons evacuated yesterday are already returning home.

Albay province, also in the Bicol region, is sending home the 15,300 families it evacuated in the past two days, Governor Joey Salceda said. According to initial reports, damage was limited to flooding of some rice paddies and the roof being blown off one “old” building, he said.

Santa Ana

The typhoon is forecast to make landfall tonight around Santa Ana in Cagayan province north of Manila, the weather bureau’s Cruz said in a phone interview. Cagayan and surrounding provinces remain under signals No. 2 and No. 3, indicating winds as strong as 185 kilometers per hour. The Central Weather Bureau in Taiwan, north of the Philippines, issued a sea warning.

Isabela province immediately south of Cagayan has prepared trucks, rubber boats and outriggers for rescue and relief operations, Vice Governor Ramon Reyes said in a phone interview. They’ve packed more than 10,000 bags with rice, canned corned beef and sardines, coffee, noodles and sugar, he said. Farmers tried to save what they could of the rice crop, much of which is sold in Manila.

“We expect the province to be part of the center of the storm,” Reyes said. “If this harvest gets destroyed, the country will have a shortage.” Ketsana “didn’t affect the province and we even sent relief goods to Manila, he said. “The situation might reverse. We hope it wouldn’t come to that.”

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