Death toll from ‘Pablo’ continues to rise, breaches 140

Rescuers carry a flash flood victim after Typhoon Bopha hit New Bataan in Compostela province, southern Philippines December 5, 2012. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Dec 5 (Mabuhay) — The death toll from typhoon “Pablo” continued to rise, passing 140 Wednesday afternoon as reports from various disaster response agencies began filtering in.

Officials earlier said they feared the toll would rise further in the day as rescuers begin reaching isolated areas where dozens were reported to be missing.

The count from various agencies:

81 in Davao Oriental (provincial disaster risk reduction and management council)
51 in Compostela Valley (10th Infantry Division, Philippine Army)
6 in Caraga region (Office of Civil Defense-Caraga)
2 in Misamis Occidental (NDRRMC)
2 in Bukidnon (NDRRMC)
1 in Siquijor (NDRRMC)
In Davao Oriental, where Pablo first made landfall, many of the fatalities were from the coastal towns of Baganga and Cateel, where 61 people were reported killed by debris and felled trees.

In the town of Boston, 15 people were killed while Barangay Caatihan remained isolated and “severe damage on agricultural land and extensive loss on livestock” was reported.

Hundreds of houses, churches and government buildings were damaged.

In Cateel, an evacuation center collapsed due to strong winds.

Over 4,000 families remain in evacuation centers in the province.

“Three of our coastal municipalities remain isolated,” said  The death toll from typhoon “Pablo” continued to rise, passing 140 Wednesday afternoon as reports from various disaster. “Roads to these towns remain impassable. There are many fallen trees and debris and the bridge going there had collapsed.”

She said rescuers were slowly trying to reach the stricken areas, using everything from heavy equipment to their bare hands and chain saws to clear the roads.

“It’s like we’re running an obstacle course,” she said on local radio.

Senior Superintendent Rommil Mitra, the provincial police director, said Cateel bore the brunt of the typhoon as it made landfall early Tuesday morning.

“Actually sila ‘yung matindi (na tinamaan ng) bagyo na dumating sa kanila kasi lahat ng bahay sa poblacion (they were the hardest hit by the storm that hit them because all the houses in the town center), including government buildings, police station, hospitals walang bubong. Maraming nabagsakan ng kahoy, naipit sa pader (have no roofs. Many were crushed by trees, crushed under walls),” Mitra said in a phone interview.

“Talagang malakas na hangin ang kanilang naramdaman (They really felt strong winds),” Mitra added. “Ang pagka-explain sa akin ng hepe, umaangat ‘yung Army trucks, gumagalaw sa lakas ng hangin, nadadala ng hangin (As it was explained to me by the chief of police, even Army trucks were rising, moved by the force of the wind).”

In Compostela Valley province, the dead included three soldiers, Lieutenant Colonel Lyndon Paniza, spokesman of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, reported.

Most of the dead were killed by a mudslide that hit Barangay Andap, New Bataan Tuesday morning, sweeping away homes and a military outpost of the Army’s 66th Infantry Battalion.

The 10th ID said 25 persons more were injured in the incident.

Six other soldiers are missing and three were injured.

“It is quite sad and tragic. They were actually there to be ready to help our countrymen who may be in trouble,” Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II said of the military casualties.

The military was scrambling helicopters and heavy equipment Wednesday to New Bataan, where rainwater had gushed down from nearby slopes, creating a deadly swirl of rainwater, logs and rocks that crushed everything in its path.

The narrow mountain pass leading to the town was littered with fallen trees and boulders, virtually cutting it off from traffic, said Major General Ariel Bernardo, commander of the 10th ID.

“We are hoping to fly our helicopters to conduct reconnaissance and search and recovery,” he said.

Parts of Mindanao remained without power and communications, with food and clean water in limited supply.

Mitra said at least one person still remains missing in the province.

Police in the Caraga region reported that Junie Manatad and Nestor Moreno were both missing in Bayabas town, Surigao del Sur after they reportedly went fishing late Monday despite a ban issued because of the typhoon. Search and rescue operations are still ongoing.

The NDRRMC also reported that a motor vessel ran aground off Maria, Siquijor Tuesday afternoon as typhoon Pablo crossed the area. The vessel, identified as MV Euro 3, came from Dumaguete City and had 16 crewmembers.

According to the NDRRMC, the crewmembers jumped from the vessel and swam to the shoreline. However, two of them were reported missing.

Thousands flee

About 21,560 families or 106,730 persons were evacuated in Regions 8, 10, 11 and Caraga.

As of 6 a.m. Wednesday, 4,963 passengers were reported stranded. So were 527 rolling cargo, 152 vessels and 59 motor banca.

Power outages and communication interruptions were also reported in Region 7, 10, 11, Caraga and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the NDRRMC said.

The villages of Gata, Cadayonan, Dimayon, Tandiong, Cairan Rogan and Punud in Poona Bayabao, Lanao del Sur were reported flooded as of Tuesday afternoon. Flooding was also reported in the municipalities of Bubong, Ramain, Mulondo, and Taraka, also in Lanao Del Sur.

A tornado struck Sitio Fishing Village, Barangay Poblacion in Alicia, Zamboanga Sibugay, damaging the roofs of five houses and a warehouse.

About 100 people were evacuated to the municipal gym because of the incident. (MNS)

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