By Francis Wakefield
The Philippine Air Force (PAF) Friday said that it has been working overtime and on the move to help provide prompt assistance to all the victims affected by the wrath of Tropical Depression “Usman’’.
PAF Public Affairs chief Major Aristides M. Galang, said Humaninatarian Assistance and Disaster Response teams from the 505th Search and Rescue Group together with the help of the 220th Airlift Wing are actively conducting rescue and retrieval operations in all typhoon-hit areas mostly devastated by heavy landslides and flashfloods in the Bicol area.
At the height of the heavy rains from December 29-31, 2018, Disaster Response Teams from the Tactical Operations Group 5 and Tactical Operations Wing Southern Luzon were also deployed in the area for fast access and manning in the rescue operations with the use of M-35 trucks and rubberboats.
Moreover, several aircraft were also utilized such as the Super Huey, UH-1D and C-295 aircraft to help reach impenetrable areas which paved the way to evacuate victims in the areas of Sitio Peñafrancia, Barangay Sagrada, Buhi and San Miguel, Nabua, Camarines Sur.
Galang said to date, a total of 13 flying hours were conducted by the PAF and 32,800 lbs worth of relief goods were transported to all the victims affected by TD Usman with the help of several National Government Agencies in the area.
“The Philippine Air Force is continuously on its feet to rescue and help all our fellow Filipinos trapped in different areas of Bicol region,” Galang said in a statement.
The death and destruction to property brought by tropical depression Usman that made landfall in Eastern Samar on Dec. 29 and left the Philippine area of responsibility on Dec. 31, presently counts 122 dead, 28 missing, and P816 million damages and losses.
The death toll of 122 persons, as of 12 noon Thursday, was reported by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) yesterday, from the regions of CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Quezon), MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), Bicol, and Eastern Visayas.
Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Director for Operations Director and NDRRMC spokesman Edgar Posadas also reported 28 missing and 60 persons injured.
Posadas said the NDRRMC is still validating the reported 122 fatalities.
Meanwhile, NDRRMC Executive Director and Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Administrator Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, said that 75,326 families or 308,491 persons from 624 barangays in the affected areas.
Of the families affected, 6,217 families or 30,960 persons are being served inside 210 evacuation centers.
He said a total of 2,896 houses were damaged.