As the world gets ready for Christmas, buying presents and planning get-togethers, festive spirits are likely to be dampened in the Philippines as the country hunkers down for tropical storm Vinta. The storm neared Philippines on Thursday and is expected to make a landfall in the Davao-Caraga region by Thursday evening of Friday morning.
Weather agency PAGASA said that Vinta would move away from the Philippines on Monday morning, but over the weekend it is set to bring scattered to widespread and moderate to heavy rains in Central and Eastern Visayas, Caraga, Davao and Northern Mindanao, reported CNN.
At present the storm carries winds of about 65 kilometers per hour, accompanied by gusts of about 80 kilometers per hour. In anticipation of the storm, ferry and bus services have been suspended and transport officials have issued advisories to travelers asking them to be cautious of floods and landslides.
"All drivers are advised to take precautionary measures during their trips," the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board said in a statement.
Authorities have also asked residents and revelers to plan the festivities as per the weather advisory and remain alert. "Let us celebrate the holiday season with precaution," said DILG officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy in a statement on Wednesday. "Please do not be complacent and take heed of weather advisories, as well as your local government units."
Urging residents to keep track of bulletins, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has warned that the storm may change its path and said that people must be prepared. "Lives are more important than property. Let us all remain safe and alive, especially during this Christmas season," he said.
The department has also told the residents that evacuation orders may also be given and they must be ready to leave immediately. Due to this, numerous rescue boats are said to be on standby and residents have also been packing food and clothes.
Tropical storm Vinta comes close on the heels of Urduja, which battered the nations just a few days back, killing about 40 people. Heavy rains lashed the island of Biliran in the eastern Philippines causing landslides and flash floods. About 90,000 people fled their homes and a police official explained that "rocks as big as cars" had come crashing down the mountains.
"Rocks as big as cars fell on concrete houses after three days of continuous, heavy rain" in the mountainous district of Lucsoon, chief inspector Lilibeth Morillo told AFP.
The storm also caused power outages in several areas of the island. Ferry services and flights in the island were disrupted due to incessant rains and about 15,000 holiday travellers were stranded on the island.