‘Urduja’ weakens, leaves at least 31 dead
At least 31 people died from flooding and landslides in Eastern Visayas and southern Luzon even as Tropical Storm “Urduja” (international name: Kai-tak) weakened into a depression on Sunday.
A tornado followed by a landslide hit the town of Caibiran in Biliran province, where most of the fatalities were recorded.
The number of fatalities is expected to rise as 23 people were reported missing in Biliran alone.
Urduja tore across Samar and Leyte, toppling power lines in 39 towns or cities and damaging roads and bridges, the national disaster agency said.
Some 87,700 people fled their homes in the region.
Urduja weakened on Sunday afternoon, with gusts of up to 80 kilometers an hour, and was reclassified as a tropical depression, weather forecasters said.
But disaster officials warned that more floods and landslides were possible and said 15,500 passengers were stranded because ferry services remained suspended in areas affected by Urduja.
At Ninoy Aquino International Airport, at least 68 domestic flights, mostly bound for or coming from Western Visayas, had been canceled as of 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
A total of 221,953 people at 492 villages in Bicol, Western Visayas and Caraga were affected by Urduja, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
Impassable roads have become a challenge to first responders. In Pinabacdao, Samar, for instance, they had a difficult time reaching affected communities as flooding closed the road to all types of vehicles, the NDRRMC said.
Sofronio Dacillo, provincial disaster risk reduction and management officer, said 26 people died from landslides in four towns of Biliran province. “We have recovered the bodies,” he said.
Gov. Gerardo Espina Jr. gave the same number of fatalities in an interview on ABS-CBN television. He said 23 people were missing.
In a bulletin on Sunday, the NDRRMC said it was still confirming reports that more than 20 people died in Biliran.
Lolita Rosel, Caibiran municipal disaster risk reduction and management officer, said 14 people were buried alive when landslides covered eight houses at Barangay Cabibihan, about 7 km from the town center, on Saturday night.
“There was a tornado followed by landslide that hit the area around 7 p.m. on Saturday, which resulted in the death of 14 people,” Rosel said in a phone interview.
She said only seven bodies had been recovered, including those of Ronald Español, 27; his common-law wife Jessabel Mandaue, 25 and children James Ron, 4, and Judy Ann, 2; Emmanuel Bendicio, 5, and Merlyn Sangcap.
Landslides also killed six people in Naval, four in Almeria, and one in Biliran towns, according to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC).
“We have just received body bags from the Department of Health where we will place the remains of the victims,” Rosel said.
In Almeria, the four fatalities were identified as Winnie Garbo, 55; Maribeth Garbo, 50; Wilma Garbo, 12; and Jimmy Jorge, 2.
The PDRRMC chair, Jun Dacillo, said six people were buried in landslides in Naval, but only three had been identified.
The bodies of Anita Caliao, 59; John Carlo Superio, 12; and Allyssa Mae Superio, 9; were recovered on Saturday, he said.
Three others were recovered on Sunday but these remained unidentified, Dacillo said.
Two died in Romblon province and one each in Masbate and Camarines Norte provinces.
Urduja, the strongest typhoon to hit Eastern Visayas this year, also claimed the life of a woman in Ormoc City, Leyte province.
The body of Juanita Cabillo was retrieved on Sunday morning from a pile of earth that cascaded from the mountains and hit her house at Barangay Tongonan where she was fast asleep early on Saturday.
Snake bite in Ormoc
A coast guard was taken to hospital after a snake bit him in the neck while conducting rescue operations at Barangay Lilo-an in Ormoc on Saturday afternoon.
Armin B. Pahil was crossing on foot the neck-deep floods from Tzu Chi village when bitten by a nonpoisonous snake.
Heavy rains triggered floods at 37 barangays in Ormoc that sent 5,961 families to different evacuation centers.
In Tacloban, Urduja brought flash floods of up to 1.5 meters and strong winds that left the city without power and water, according to its disaster office chief.
Ildebrando Bernadas, head of Tacloban’s disaster risk reduction office, said 82 percent of Tacloban’s districts were flooded.
Capiz, Iloilo, Boracay, Cebu
Heavy rains also flooded areas in Capiz, Iloilo and Boracay Island prompting the evacuation of hundreds of families.
About 1,200 tourists were stranded at Cagban port waiting for the resumption of trips of passenger boats between Boracay and Caticlan in Aklan.
About 290 remained at the port as of early Sunday afternoon, with hotels and resorts providing accommodation to the tourists.
In Cebu, Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot requested more food assistance to the 4,126 families displaced by Urduja in his town.
“We’re more concerned about the island of Carnaza. Two days of bad weather have already exhausted their food packs,” Loot said.
Second landfall in Masbate
At least four were confirmed dead while two remain missing in the Bicol region and Romblon province as Urduja made a second landfall in Masbate province around noon on Sunday.
Ginalyn Alicante (not Genalyn Decante as first reported), 42, died after she was carried away by floodwaters at Sitio Naga, Barangay Santa Cruz, Palanas town.
Alicante, who was carrying her daughter, was evacuating to a safer place on Sunday when she was caught by heavy flooding. Her daughter survived by holding on to a coconut tree.
In Camarines Norte, the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) reported that Conchita Nequita, 58, died in a landslide on Sunday before dawn in Labo town.
The RDRRMC report also said Gil Mirasol and his wife Sheryl went missing while crossing a bridge on their way home at Libmanan town in Camarines Sur on Saturday night.
In a report, the Masbate DRRMC said the eight people initially reported missing in Palanas had been found among evacuees in the town.
Flash floods were reported at Sitio Ilawod of Barangay Uson in Palanas, Sitio Cagba in Barangay Tugbo, Masbate City, and five villages in Uson town.
The villages of Marintoc, Bagacay, Balatucan and Poblacion in Mobo town were also affected by landslide while houses at Barangay Tabuc and Mandali were damaged by flood, Herman Cervantes of Mobo DRRMO said in a text message.
On Saturday night, San Pascual town on Burias Island, Masbate province, was placed under a state of calamity.
Elderly couple in Romblon
In Romblon, an elderly couple died after their house was hit by landslide early on Sunday.
Senior Supt. Leo Quevedo, Romblon police chief, said the victims Masoline and Matilde Romero, both 60 years old, were inside their house when the landslide occurred around 8 a.m. at Barangay Mabini in San Fernando town on Sibuyan Island.
Still in San Fernando, some roads were rendered impassable by flash floods at the villages of Taclobo and España.
In Marinduque province, 140 people were evacuated due to flooding in the towns of Gasan, Mogpog and Santa Cruz.
No boat trips
There are still no boat trips from Mindoro Island as of Sunday, according to the Philippine Ports Authority in Calapan City.
At Dangay port in Roxas in Oriental Mindoro province, the MDRRMO said more than 700 travelers were still stranded with 36 private vehicles, 16 buses and 40 trucks.
In Masbate’s Mobo town port, some 737 athletes, coaches and officials who joined the recently concluded Masbate Provincial Meet, which was held in Masbate City from Dec. 10 to 14, were stranded after the Philippine Coast Guard prohibited vessels from venturing out to sea. —With reports from Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Morexette Erram, Madonna Virola, Ma. April Mier, Mar Arguelles, Jerome Aning, Nikko Dizon, Faye Orellana and AFP
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