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Butchoy now a typhoon but not expected to land

MANILA, Philippines (8:00 A.M., June 15, 2012) - BUTCHOY (International name: GUCHOL) has strengthened rapidly into a full-blown Typhoon as it slowed down after it moved West-Southwest over the past 12 hours. The typhoon is anticipated to make a sharp turn towards the northwest within the next 12 to 24 hours.

Butchoy is not expected to land anywhere in its track but is forecast to enhance the Southwest Monsoon (aka. Habagat) Mindanao beginning today and across the whole Philippine Islands on Saturday through Monday. Breezy to windy conditions & cloudy skies w/ occasional to widespread rains, thunderstorms & squalls will be expected. The seas along the coastal areas along the West Philippine and Visayan Sea will become moderate to rough & dangerous.

Tropical storm “Butchoy” is expected to bring heavy rains over western Luzon, including Metro Manila, and western Visayas this weekend, the state weather bureau said.

Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) weather division chief Robert Sawi said Butchoy developed into a severe tropical storm yesterday afternoon and could turn into a typhoon while over the Philippine Sea.

However, Butchoy was unlikely to hit land based on latest forecasts.

“If Butchoy’s movement will not change, it will not make landfall,” PAGASA administrator Nathaniel Servando said in a media briefing.

As of 4 p.m. yesterday, the eye of the storm was spotted at 780 kilometers east of Guiuan, Eastern Samar with maximum sustained winds of 95 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 120 kph.

Butchoy will also bring 15-20 mm of rains per hour within its 300-km radius.

Butchoy, the second tropical cyclone to enter the country this year, was forecast to move west-northwest at 20 kph.

No storm warning signals have been raised as of 5 p.m. yesterday.

Sawi said a high pressure area over the Pacific Ocean was affecting the movement of Butchoy.

“It will pass near eastern Visayas and Bicol and eventually it will recurve. All models show that it will recurve in the next 48 hours and swerve toward southern islands of Japan (Okinawa) in the next three to four days,” Sawi said.

PAGASA advised residents of western Visayas and Mindanao to prepare for monsoon rains beginning today until Monday.

Sawi told the public and local disaster risk reduction managers to prepare and take precautionary measures.

He also warned fishermen against venturing into the seas of northern and western Luzon, western Visayas and eastern Mindanao due to strong winds and big waves.

Butchoy is predicted to be 560 km east of Virac, Catanduanes this morning, 320 km northeast of Virac by tomorrow morning, and 310 km northeast of Aparri, Cagayan on Sunday.

It is expected to leave the Philippine area of responsibility on Tuesday, Sawi said.

PAGASA hydrologist Adela Castillo-Duran said the water levels of major dams were normal as of 4 p.m. yesterday.

However, she said PAGASA advised the managers of Magat dam in Isabela province to prepare for heavy rains to be dumped by Butchoy.

National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Alan Purisima has already alerted all police units in low-lying areas of Metro Manila to brace for the possible impact of Butchoy.

“We should not be caught flat-footed. Our forces should be ready along with our equipment, especially those used for evacuation purposes,” Purisima said in his directive to his five district directors.

Purisima ordered district directors to prepare their sea assets such as bancas and motorboats for short notice deployment.

“We should move in one call, not only our top police officials but also the local government units (LGUs),” he said, adding that the RPSB and the District Public Safety Battalion (DPSB) would play a key role as Butchoy enters the country’s area of responsibility.

Purisima explained that the NCRPO would remain on normal alert but he wanted police units in low-lying areas of the cities of Muntinlupa, Pasig, Pasay, Paraaque, Marikina, Quezon City, Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela and Manila to be on its highest emergency preparedness.

“We should monitor the hourly announcement of the weather bureau so we will not be caught by surprise of any development that may occur at the height of cyclone Butchoy,” he said.

LPA leaves 9 dead, 60 missing

Meanwhile, nine people have died and more than 60 others remain missing due to a low-pressure area that brought heavy rains and flooded different parts of the country, an official reported yesterday.

Six of the fatalities figured in a sea mishap in El Nido, Palawan last Tuesday while two were swept away by floods in General Santos City and Sarangani.

The remaining fatality got buried in a landslide in Davao City last Monday.

The latest fatality was Juanito Tito, one of the passengers of M/V Josille II, which capsized off Pagawanin Island in El Nido, Palawan last Tuesday.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Benito Ramos said some fishermen recovered Tito’s body yesterday afternoon.

The other persons who died in the sea accident were Jeccamae Estarija, Pamela Anne Clariza, Nita Huyo, Severino Eliseo and John Aldrin Atienza.

Rescue teams also retrieved on Wednesday night the body of Sweet Jhara Onad, 10, who was buried in a landslide in Davao.

The remaining two fatalities were identified as Segapo Cabigding, 63, who was swept away by flood waters in Glan, Sarangani and Rolando Mata, who drowned in General Santos City. NDRRMC said 62 people remain missing as of yesterday afternoon, 58 of them from Sarangani while five were from Palawan.

Two persons from Kidapawan City suffered injuries during the flash flood.

Ramos said the low-pressure area has affected 17,279 persons or 3,462 families in Davao and SOCCSKSARGEN, displacing 257 families or 1,254 persons who are now staying at evacuation centers.

The floods and landslide also damaged 283 houses and about P1.04-million worth of livestock and crops in the two regions.

The government and the private sector have already provided almost P220,000 worth of assistance to the affected residents. (From,