‘Urduja’ landslide kills 26
4 Biliran towns hard-hit; thousands left stranded
LANDSLIDES triggered by tropical storm “Urduja” (international name Kai-Tak) have killed 26 people in the island province of Biliran, in Eastern Visayas, a day after the storm pounded the east of the archipelago.
“There is a total of 26 people dead from landslides in four towns of Biliran. We have recovered the bodies,” Sofronio Dacillo, Biliran provincial disaster risk reduction and management officer, said.
Gerardo Espina, governor of the island province east of the much larger island of Leyte, gave the same figure for deaths in an interview on ABS-CBN television.
The storm also left thousands of people heading home for Christmas stranded on Sunday.
The storm has weakened, with gusts of up to 90 kilometers an hour, after cutting off power and triggering landslides in a region devastated by Typhoon “Yolanda” four years ago, state weather forecasters said.
Disaster officials on Sunday warned that more floods and landslides were possible and said 15,500 passengers were stranded because ferry services remained suspended in parts of the central Philippines.
“I’ve been stranded for three days, sleeping in the bus, and I just want to get home to my family for Christmas,” Eliaquin Pilapil, a 55-year-old farmer, said from a port in the town of Matnog in the eastern province of Sorsogon.
“We’re given food once or twice a day and some of the passengers here are running out of money.”
Urduja has injured 19 and forced 87,700 people from their homes when it tore across the eastern islands of Samar and Leyte on Saturday.
The two islands bore the brunt in 2013 of Yolanda, which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing.
Urduja toppled power lines in 39 towns or cities and damaged roads and bridges, the national disaster agency said.
In the Leyte city of Tacloban, it 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.
“The storm moved so slowly that it brought so much rain to our city. The floods resulted from four days of rain,” Ildebrando Bernadas, head of Tacloban’s disaster risk reduction office, said.
Bernadas said 82 percent of Tacloban’s districts were flooded.
The storm also damaged farms and crops, bringing more misery to people who had been recovering from Haiyan’s destruction.
“We had a phobia from (Yolanda) which destroyed our coconut trees. We planted lettuce and eggplant but the new storm took them away too. It’s devastating,” Remedios Serato, a 78-year-old farmer in Leyte, said.
Ormoc Mayor Richard Gomez declared a state of calamity in his city.
“More work ahead. To the residents of this city Pls lend some of your valuable time to help our fellow Ormocanon,” Gomez said in a Facebook post Saturday.
In an interview with radio dzMM, Gomez said the storm destroyed 2,000 hectares of rice or about 90 percent of Taclogan’s rice fields.
Malacanang on Sunday said relief operations would continue throughout the holiday season.
“Vital services, such as preparedness and response to disasters or calamities shall continue with their operations even during holidays,” said presidential spokesman Harry Roque.
“The Department of National Defense, through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management and the Office of Civil Defense, in coordination with concerned agencies of the government, is closely monitoring any possible weather disturbance and is working round the clock to render the necessary services,” said Roque.
“As for Typhoon Urduja, the Department of Social Welfare and Development has mobilized relief operations to the affected parts of the country,” said Roque.
“DSWD-OIC Secretary Emmanuel Leyco assured [us] that his agency has a stockpile of 368,000 family food packs worth P223 million, food and non-food items worth P393 million and available standby funds amounting to P245 million,” said Roque.
Also on Sunday, Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez reiterated her call to speed the passage of a bill to crate a national agency to focus on disaster response. Rio N. Araja, AFP