5 dead in ‘Ompong’ onslaught

By Aaron Recuenco

At least five people, including two responders tasked to help in disaster preparations, died as typhoon “Ompong” unleashed a fury of heavy rains and strong winds in Luzon and some parts of the Visayas, national officials said.

DISASTER CZAR – National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director and Civil Defense Administrator Ricardo Jalad answers question from a panel of Manila Bulletin (MB) editors during the MB Hot Seat round-table discussion at the MB integrated newsroom yesterday. (Jay Ganzon | Manila Bulletin) National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director and Civil Defense Administrator Ricardo Jalad (Jay Ganzon | Manila Bulletin File Photo)

Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) Administrator Ricardo B. Jalad said the two responders died while involved in disaster preparations in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), which was mostly hit by various landslides.

“We are yet to receive reports but as of now, there are two confirmed dead. Both of them are responders to those affected by the typhoon,” said Jalad.

The circumstances on the death of the two responders were still unclear as of 4:30 p.m. Saturday but Jalad said in a press briefing at Camp Aguinaldo that the two died from one of the 51 ‘incidents’ they recorded in the Cordilleras as a result of typhoon Ompong.

“Most of these incidents, 42 incidents, are landslides,” said Jalad.

The three others casualties were based on the reports of the Philippine National Police, two of them due to landslides in Baguio City and the other one was a case of drowning in Pasig City.

Senior Superintendent Benigno Durana Jr., PNP spokesman, said two other people were reported missing also due to a landslide in Dampingan, Loakan, Itogon, Benguet. He identified them as Hyacinth and Narcisa Gabino.

Durana also identified the two other confirmed fatalities as 19-year-old Shaina Mae Laroco Pascua and 45-year old Grace Ganabe. The first fatality was a female teener whose cadaver was found floating in a river in Pasig City.

“We are still consolidating the number of casualties,” said Durana, adding that the consolidation is based on the reports of the local police especially in the hardly-hit areas.

A recent police report revealed that two more people in Baguio City and Itogon, Benguet were injured in two separate landslides while two others were injured due to electrocution in Marikina City.

At least five million people were estimated to be affected by typhoon Ompong, as it battered the areas within its 1,000-kilometer diameter path, particularly the northern part of Luzon.

Tens of thousands of people were stranded in various ports in Luzon and the Visayas while thousands of families were also forced to flee their houses over warnings that the weather disturbance is packing a strong wind almost similar to typhoon Yolanda.