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‘Ursula’ death count now 28, more toll likely

The death toll from Typhoon “Ursula” has risen to 28, and will likely climb further, authorities said on Friday.

READ: ‘Ursula’ casualties piling up

‘Ursula’ death count now 28, more toll likely
URSULA’S VICTIM. Rescuers carry a body, believed to be one of several fishermen who went missing at the height of Typhoon ‘Ursula’ that pummeled the central Philippines on Christmas Day from the seashore in Borongan, Eastern Samar on Friday. The number of typhoon victims has risen to 28, according to authorities. AFP
The storm, with wind gusts of up to 200 kilometers per hour, swept across remote villages and popular tourist destinations in the Visayas on Christmas Day.

READ: ‘Ursula’ dampens Yule fun

Authorities on Friday confirmed 28 people had died, up from 16 on Thursday, as information came in from badly hit areas where Internet and mobile phone networks had been cut.

“The likelihood is present that the casualty count will still increase. We’re hoping against it,” national disaster agency spokesman Mark Timbal said.

He said at least 12 people were still listed as missing.

Among those killed were several members of a family who drowned, a policeman electrocuted by a toppled post while patrolling and a man struck by a felled coconut tree.

At least 12 people perished in the provinces of Capiz and Iloilo, the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council confirmed Friday morning.

Three casualties were confirmed in Capiz while nine others were recorded in northern Iloilo.

The typhoon displaced tens of thousands living on the coast and low-lying areas who were forced to celebrate Christmas in evacuation centers.

Others missed family reunions, with plane and ferry services canceled.

It also hit Boracay island, famed for its white-sand beaches which draws more than a million tourists a year.

Coconut trees were uprooted on Boracay and windows in some resorts were blown in during the storm, and ferry services to and from the island were cut on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Kalibo International Airport resumed normal operations Friday after being hit by Ursula on Christmas Day.

The temporary closure of the airport resulted in canceled flights for two days.

In a statement, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said Kalibo Airport was heavily damaged by the typhoon.

Despite the damage, however, CAAP spokesman Eric Apolonio said the domestic arrival and check-in areas of the passenger terminal building can still be used.

“Fortunately, the runway and tower facilities did not incur any damage,” he said.

However, no one died on Boracay, and the damage was not on the scale of badly hit coastal towns elsewhere in the Visayas.

The typhoon affected 44,792 families as of midnight Friday, or the equivalent of 185,168 people in 584 barangays in Regions V, VI, VII, VIII and Caraga.

Leyte‘s provincial government has placed the entire province under a state of calamity after Typhoon Ursula left a trail of destruction when it crossed the region on Christmas Eve.

The declaration was made late Thursday afternoon, with the support of 11 of the 13 provincial board members.

With the declaration of a state of calamity, the province can now use the 5 percent of its calamity fund from its annual budget.

Based on the initial information from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, at least 15 percent of farms and other infrastructure were damaged by Ursula.

At least 13 towns in the province were severely affected by “Ursula”.

A total of 1, 941 families were evacuated to safety during the typhoon’s onslaught.

Ursula is no longer causing heavy rainfall in any part of the country but the northeast monsoon and the tail-end of a cold front will bring rains in some areas.

The typhoon caused P633.72 million worth of damage in Mimaropa, with a production loss of 969 metric tons, affecting 4,100 hectares and 44,061 farmers and fishermen.

Affected commodities include rice, corn, fisheries, and agri-facilities.

Electric cooperatives have started restoring power distribution services to several provinces that experienced outages due to the onslaught of Typhoon Ursula, the National Electrification Administration said.

The NEA Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Department reported that 16 provinces in Mimaropa, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, and Western Visayas lost electricity due to the effects of the typhoon.

The Philippine Red Cross has deployed assessment teams to Iloilo, Aklan, Antique, Ormoc, Cebu, Sorsogon, Masbate, Negros Oriental, Eastern Samar, and Romblon to provide assistance, offering hot meals to about 1,000 people, including those who had to spend Christmas Day in ports and evacuation centers, potable water along the highways and ports, temporary shelter and tents.

First aid and welfare stations were also put up for the residents of different barangays.

The Philippines is the first major landmass facing the Pacific typhoon belt and is hit by an average of around 20 storms a year. 

Ursula is the 21st cyclone to hit the Philippines in 2019.

Many of the storms are deadly, and they typically wipe out harvests, homes, and infrastructure, keeping millions of people perennially poor.

Though much weaker, Ursula tracked a similar path as Super Typhoon “Yolanda,” the country’s deadliest storm on record which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.

Ursula blew out into the South China Sea on Thursday morning.

It was tracking towards Vietnam on Friday but forecast to weaken significantly into a low-pressure area well before making landfall again. 

READ: Delivering new life, compassion amid storm woes

READ: NGCP braces for ‘Ursula’ impact

READ: ‘Ursula’ intensifies

Topics: death toll , Christmas Day , Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council
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