Philippines aims for ‘zero casualty’ as super typhoon slithers to make landfall

MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is “hoping and praying for zero casualty” as it put in place necessary preparations for onslaught of typhoon “Ompong” (international name: Mangkhut). 

“We have improved a lot since Yolanda,” NDRRMC spokesperson Dir. Edgar Posadas said in a press briefing on Thursday. “We are hoping and praying for zero casualty this time.”

Super typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded in history. It pummeled the Philippines and left 6,000 people dead while it flattened seaside towns in Eastern Visayas in 2013.

Even as the state weather bureau said the intensity of Yolanda was far from Ompong, the NDRRMC said they have made “Yolanda-like” preparations for it especially since weather forecasters said Ompong would still be a destructive typhoon.

“Sabi nga ni (NDRRMC Executive Director) USec. (Ricardo) Jalad, buti pa na OA (overacting) ang preparation mo and we're safe kaysa kulang and may casualty tayo,” he said.

Posadas said pre-emptive evacuations have also started in parts of Luzon like Kalinga and Ilocos, but figures were not immediately available.

Ompong is expected to dump heavy rains and stroke high winds in Northern and Central Luzon. It is forecast to make landfall over the northern tip of Cagayan by Saturday morning.

President Rodrigo Duterte will hold a command conference at the NDRRMC Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Director Romulo Cabantac Jr., senior vice chairperson of the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MMDRRMC), assured that all 17 local government units in the National Capital Region as well as other concerned agencies are geared up for Ompong.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), for its part, “is ready to deploy anytime personnel and equipment and provide assistance to the public during rescue and evacuation operations,” according to its focal person to MMDRRMC, Michael Salalima.

Salalima said the MMDA’s Metrobase Command Center has a 24-hour crisis monitoring and management as it serves as the agency’s primary headquarters during calamity, emergency and other crisis situations in Metro Manila. 

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