‘Seniang’ weakens, leaves 59 dead
MANILA, Philippines—Tropical Storm “Seniang” weakened as it swirled out of the country early Wednesday, sparing Palawan province from heavy rains that had sparked flooding and landslides earlier in the eastern sections of Mindanao and the Visayas, and leaving at least 59 dead, according to official reports.
The last cyclone of the year, and internationally called “Jang-mi,” Seniang was degraded to a tropical depression, prompting the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) to lower the storm warnings. Seniang will leave the Philippine area of responsibility by Friday morning, Pagasa said.
The Visayas still had rains but could expect the weather to clear later in the evening, as it did in Mindanao since the storm hit the area on Monday with peak winds of 65 kilometers per hour, forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said.
The rest of the country will have fair weather on the first day of 2015, he said.
Seniang left at least 59 people dead due to landslides and flash floods in the Visayas and Mindanao, local authorities said Wednesday in separate reports to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
The authorities said 19 people were killed, while 20 were hurt in a landslide on Tuesday in Barangay (village) Mercedes, Catbalogan City, in Samar; 16 died while four were injured in different incidents in Leyte province; and 12 people died while three were missing in massive floods that hit Ronda town. A child drowned in Alcantara and a fisherman drowned at sea in San Francisco, all in Cebu province.
The other deaths reported by local authorities were three people who were either electrocuted or who drowned in Bohol province; two who drowned in Compostela Valley; two in Bukidnon province who drowned or were killed by a fallen tree; one who drowned in Misamis Oriental province; one who died after a landslide in Butuan City; and one who died of drowning in Agusan del Norte province.
The NDRRMC, however, has confirmed so far only 53 of the reported deaths: 3 in Bohol; 14 in Cebu; 10 in Leyte; 19 in Samar; 2 in Bukidnon; 2 in Compostela Valley; and one each in Misamis Oriental, Butuan City and Agusan del Norte.
Some sections of 21 national roads in the Visayas and Mindanao were closed to traffic due to landslides and flash floods, the Department of Public Works and Highways reported. “All other national roads in these regions remained open to traffic,” it said.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas on Wednesday maintained that the national government had been in touch with the local government units in areas affected by the storm several days before it made landfall.
Roxas said state agencies were prepared to help the displaced. “We observe the ‘whole of government approach’ even during the holiday season,” he said.
Regional directors of the Department of the Interior and Local Government had been directed to contact the governors and mayors of the affected provinces and towns to implement their disaster preparedness plans.
“Even before the storm made landfall last Monday, we had been coordinating with the local chief executives of the towns in the Visayas and Mindanao,” Roxas said.
The government has come up with a “standard operating procedure” for local chief executives as well as officials of the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and Department of Social Welfare and Development to carry out in times of natural calamities, he said.—With a report from Jerry E. Esplanada
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