Yolanda survivors skeptical about gov’t’s body count | Inquirer News

Yolanda survivors skeptical about gov’t’s body count

By: - Correspondent / @SBarramedaINQ
/ 07:34 PM February 11, 2014


NAGA CITY, Philippines — Survivors of the Super Typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) remain unconvinced by the body count presented by the national government three months after the monster typhoon struck the country, leaving it with its worst calamity in decades.

As mourning for the lives lost during Yolanda (Haiyan) entered its third month, the survivors in Tacloban City, Leyte remained unconvinced by the body count presented by the government.


Survivors will be putting up a chain of 10,000 red and white balloons on sticks from Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport all the way to Anibong District in the downtown area of the city to remember their loved ones who died.


The red and white colors of the balloons represent love and peace for the souls of the dead while the 10,000 number of balloons represent what they believe to be the correct figure of deaths during the Super Typhoon, according to Jeff Manibay, founder and president of One Tacloban.

Manibay, also a local broadcaster who lost both his parents to the storm, has said Yolanda survivors in Leyte and Samar, believe the government death toll at 6,201 number as of January is far from the truth.

“It’s unbelievable. We know there were more who died. Residents here can even tell you where the remains are lying,” he said during a phone interview on Monday night.

Manibay said the event on Feb. 14 would be a call for the government to continue with retrieval operations in areas still unexplored in Eastern Visayas so that all the bodies that were washed away by the storm surge could be finally gathered.

He said that on Dec. 12, people noted a discrepancy in the figures released by the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) as noted by local radio stations and radiomen.

Manibay said personnel from OCD who kept track of the records of the retrieval updated the number of casualties with a figure less than what was released days before.


He explained the OCD tracked the number of bodies retrieved at around 5,000 prior to Dec. 12 but lowered the data to around 3,000 without explanation.

With retrieval operations still ongoing in parts of Leyte, particularly in Tacloban City, residents insisted there were bodies still to be found in areas around the coast.

The 32-kilometer mangrove forest stretching the coast of Tacloban City to Babatngon, also in Leyte, in the San Juanico Strait, still has many bones of Yolanda victims, according to Manibay.

“A TV crew found five remains in that mangrove forest. They brought it back here. The remains were those of two kids and three adults,” he said.

Manibay said if the government would lend the people of Tacloban the resources and facilities, they would be able to organize the retrieval of the bodies themselves as the people knew where the bodies were.

He said that the government should also conduct retrieval operations in inaccessible places in Samar, which authorities have not explored.

“There are more of the dead there waiting to be retrieved especially in the surrounding uninhabited small islands,” he added.

Manibay said instead of having romantic dinners on Valentine’s Day, Yolanda survivors would share merienda (snacks) on the streets while forming the chain in the morning of Feb. 14.

The Valentine’s Day event would be followed by another commemoration on Feb. 15, the 100th day of mourning (from Nov. 8).

The 10,000 balloons that were used to form the chain on Feb. 14 would then be transferred to the Tacloban City Hall to surround the building on Feb. 15.


Gov’t stops ‘Yolanda’ body count at 4,011

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President concedes ‘Yolanda’ death toll has doubled

TAGS: Calamity, Death Toll, disaster, Haiyan, Mourning, News, One Tacloban, rebuilding, recovery, Regions, Restoration, retrieval, supertyphoon, Typhoon

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