July 18, 2018, 8:02 pm
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33 deaths reported from ‘Urduja’: NDRRMC says no official count yet

AT least 33 people were reported to have perished from weather disturbance “Urduja” although the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said there was still no confirmed death as of yesterday.

The 33 fatalities were based on reports of local governments and the police.

NDRRMC spokeswoman Romina Marasigan said the agency received reports of only three deaths in Leyte -- from drowning and landslide -- and these are still subject to validation.

“None yet,” Marasigan said when asked of the official fatality count. “We received reports of three deaths coming from the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) but these are for confirmation,” she said Marasigan.

Urduja was downgraded from a storm to a tropical depression yesterday and is expected to exit the Philippine area of responsibility either tomorrow or Wednesday.

A new tropical depression has developed from a low pressure area and will enter the country likely before Friday if it does not change movement and speed. Once it enters, it will be named “Vinta,” the second cyclone to visit the country this month and the 22nd for this year.

President Duterte said he might visit areas affected by Urduja but did not say when.

The fatality count from Urduja, based on unofficial count, may reach 33, including the three deaths being validated by the NDRRMC.

Biliran Island, it its Facebook page, reported 23 people dead in four towns -- 14 in Caibiran, four in Almeria, four in Naval, and one in Biliran. It did not say the cause of their deaths. It said 25 are still missing and 10 others were injured.

Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez said three died in the city due to the onslaught of Urduja but did not say the specific cause.

Police reports said a couple died in San Fernando town in Romblon due to landslide. Another died of drowning in Palanas town in Masbate while another succumbed to landslide in Labo town in Camarines Sur.

“Although, many information are coming out from the local governments, we are waiting for the official report from the cluster (DILG and DOH) to confirm the casualties being reported. What we have is 19 injured only,” said Marasigan.

Edgar Posadas, director of the Office of Civil Defense in Eastern Visayas, said his office recorded only four fatalities in the region. Biliran and Leyte are among the provinces in the Eastern Visayas region.

Posadas said the OCD-Eastern Visayas received other reports of deaths but these are being checked.

Told of the casualty figures released by the Biliran government, Posadas said: “That’s not yet confirmed. It’s just causing confusion. In the DRRMC  (Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) system, the ones that make the declaration are the DILG and the DOH (Department of Health).”

“We just cannot say this or that. Even if there are identities and papers, we just do not declare. We are just making sure, just wait (for the confirmation). We are going to release these at the proper time. It’s just slow because we are trying to document the dead,” he said.

In a situation report, NDRRMC executive director Ricardo Jalad said Urduja has affected 51,004 families or 221,953 persons in the Bicol, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, and Caraga regions.

Of the number, Jalad said 20,342 families or 87,719 persons are housed in 264 evacuation centers.

He said 19 people were injured.

Jalad also said 39 cities and municipalities in the affected regions experienced power outage and 57 domestic flights have been cancelled.

Initial cost of damage to national roads in Eastern Samar was placed at P35 million. The agency also got reports that P520,000 worth of infrastructure have been damaged in Compostela Valley.

Jalad said the NDRRMC recorded several landslide incidents in the Samar and Leyte areas. He said flooding has affected 261 barangays in the provinces of Capiz, Leyte, Eastern Samar, and Samar,

Marasigan said the incidents reported in Eastern Visayas were landslides and flooding. “May areas were flooded because the rains were scattered to widespread. It (Urduja) was almost stationary, so the many areas were flooded,” said Marasigan.

Marasigan said social welfare workers initially had difficult in reaching some areas in Eastern Samar due to flooding and damaged roads.

Through coordination with the Armed Forces and local government units, the social welfare workers “were able to find alternate routes. Relief goods are now reaching our people, especially in Eastern Samar,” she said.

Weather forecaster Gener Quitlong said Urduja was downgraded into a tropical depression at around 8 a.m. yesterday.

He said Urduja’s continued interaction with the landmass and the cold northeast monsoon were most responsible for the decline in its intensity.

Weather forecaster Jun Galang said Urduja made its second landfall in the area of Sibuyan Island in Romblon at noon yesterday and would likely hit land for the third time in Aklan “Sunday night.”

Urduja’s first landfall was in San Policarpio town in Eastern Samar at around 1 p.m. last Saturday.

If it does not change direction, Urduja will make a fourth landfall in Cuyo, Palawan and a fifth in Puerto Princesa today.

As of 4 p.m. yesterday, Urduja was some 65 km south of Romblon, Romblon. It had maximum sustained winds of 55 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 80 kph, and was moving west southwest at 15 kph.

Areas still under signal No. 1 were Aklan, Antique, Capiz, southern part of Mindoro, Romblon, and Palawan.

Tropical cyclone warning signals elsewhere were lifted.

Urduja is expected to be in the vicinity of Taytay, Palawan this afternoon, 280 km west of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan tomorrow, and 275 km south southwest of Pagasa Island in Palawan on Wednesday.

Galang said Urduja dumped an unusual amount of rains in Guiuan, Eastern Samar and Catarman, Northern Samar in the past days.

He said it dumped 780 millimeters of rains in Guiuan from 8 a.m. of December 13 until 8 a.m. of December 14 or during a 24-hour period, which was almost double of its average monthly rainfall for December at 440 mm.

From 8 a.m. of December 14 to 8 a.m. of December 15, accumulated rainfall was 347 mm in Catarman, which was more than half of its average rainfall for the month of December at 628 mm.

Galang blamed the slow movement of the cyclone for the high volume of rainfall recorded in these areas.

“Due to its very slow movement in the past days, the storm stayed longer in these areas and dumped more rains,” he said.

Galang said the eastern portions of the Visayas and Mindanao will start to experience improved weather starting today as Urduja moves away from these areas.

The rest of Luzon, including Metro Manila, will have cloudy skies with light rains because of the northeast monsoon. – With Angela Lopez de Leon
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