Filipino expats in anxious wait for news from home as typhoon hits

Many try to stay in contact with their families as the Philippines brace for the arrival of second high-powered storm.

Two people were killed on Sunday as Typhoon Sarika hit the north-eastern parts of the Philippines, flooding many villages and disrupting power supply. AFP
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DUBAI // Families with relatives in the Philippines are bracing for an uncertain 24 hours as a tropical cyclone threatens to cause widespread disruption to Manila and the surrounding areas.

Two people were killed on Sunday as Typhoon Sarika hit the north-eastern parts of the Philippines, flooding many villages and disrupting power supply.

Many were being told to prepare for the worst as Typhoon Lawin intensifies from its position 1,535 kilometres east of the Visayas region of the Philippines. They were expecting furious wind gusts of 220kph to knock out power infrastructure and cause blackouts.

Although forecasters are struggling to pinpoint where severe storms may hit, the Luzon region is likely to be in the typhoon’s path.

Rollie Tindugan, a Filipino resident of Dubai, said his sister in the Philippines had taken precautions, as her neighbourhood was likely to be hit again after flooding in recent weeks.

“I’ve been trying to keep in touch with my friends back home as we don’t know exactly where it [the typhoon] will be,” he said.

“Those I’ve spoken with told me they were preparing for everything and moving as many things in their homes upstairs as possible. Most of them are used to trying to survive this kind of storm.”

His friends told Mr Tindugan that many areas were experiencing power blackouts and that electricity supply was intermittent in Laguna province and Manila.

Residents of the Luzon region were bracing for flooding as the storm heads their way.

“We will have to deal with the flooding later, hope and pray,” said Mr Tindugan, who lives with his wife and daughter.

His sister lives in his home in their country.

“My sister is at my house with my nephews. They are trying to look after the house as much as they can but there is a problem with a power shortage, so the communication is bad,” he said.

“They can only do so much and it is difficult to contact them.

“Many of these places have flooded before. There is not much we can do but wait and hope for the best.”

The typhoon will be given the local name Lawin when it enters the Philippines.

According to Philippine officials, the storm blew into the eastern Aurora province early yesterday before moving rapidly through heavily populated agricultural provinces.

So far, it has brought sustained winds of 130kph and caused the cancellation of about 200 domestic and international flights, leaving thousands of passengers stranded.

Coastal villagers were given early warnings to move to safer areas. In eastern Catanduanes province, a man drowned in strong river currents and fierce winds caused fatal injury to a farmer’s head.

Bal Junio, a former chairman of the Bayanihan Council and the Filipino Community in UAE, said severe storms were becoming more frequent, with about 20 such occurrences each year.

“Before, these storms were not coming through that often. Now we are seeing them almost every month. It makes it very difficult to live in some areas,” he said.