Scores dead, missing as ‘Ulysses’ adds to Luzon’s disaster woes

Published November 13, 2020, 2:18 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

At least 14 people were confirmed to have been killed while 14 others went missing after typhoon “Ulysses” assailed Luzon shortly after the devastation brought by three other typhoons in less than two weeks, authorities disclosed Friday.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte conducts an aerial survey of flood-affected areas hit by Typhoon Ulysses on November 12, 2020. He was accompanied by Senator Christopher Go. (ACE MORANDANTE/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a Cabinet briefing, Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, civil defense administrator and executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), said 12 of the fatalities were recorded in the Cordillera Administrative Region (1), Cagayan Valley Region (6), and Bicol Region (5). The details of the two other deaths have yet to be released as of this writing.

Jalad also reported that there were eight persons injured in Bicol Region while 14 others were reported missing in Cagayan Valley Region, Calabarzon or Region 4A, and, Bicol Region.

However, General Gilbert Gapay, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said their death count has already reached 39. 

The AFP is the lead agency in the Search, Rescue, and Retrieval (SRR) Cluster of the NDRRMC, which members include other uniformed services such as the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

Gapay said the AFP retrieved eight cadavers in the regions of Bicol, Calabarzon, and in Central Luzon. Meanwhile, the BFP found five bodies in the provinces of Cavite, Bicol, and Benguet.

In the same briefing, General Debold Sinas, PNP Chief, reported that they have recorded 26 deaths in Metro Manila (2), Cagayan Valley (7), Central Luzon (3), Calabarzon (9), Bicol Region (3), and Cordillera Administrative Region (2).

Asked on the big discrepancy on the death tally by the NDRRMC with other agencies, NDRRMC spokesperson Mark Timbal explained that the data from the military, police, and fire personnel have to be validated if the causes of these deaths are really related to typhoon Ulysses.

“This reporting from the agencies (AFP, PNP, and BFP) is a direct reportage of their findings from the ground,” Timbal said.

“The NDRRMC will consolidate the data through cross referencing with the teams handling the Management of the Dead and Missing (MDM),” he added. The MDM is a cluster under the NDRRMC which is under the supervision of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Meanwhile, more typhoon deaths are feared as the Cordillera Regional DRRMC said search, rescue, and retrieval operations were on-going as of this writing to find at least 12 persons who were buried under boulders of rocks and soil when a landslide occured in Banaue at the height of Ulysses’ onslaught on Thursday.

A report reaching NDRRMC Operations Center showed the bodies of five persons were already retrieved by search and rescue personnel, while one other who sustained injuries was saved. 

Rescuers were still searching for six persons who were trapped underneath the mixture of rocks and soil, the report said.

Timbal said they could not yet include the fatalities in Benguet landslide into their official death toll since they still have to validate their names.

Despite this, NDRRMC chairperson Delfin Lorenzana said he was satisfied with the response of relevant government agencies before, during, and after typhoon Ulysses.

“Maganda ang ating response dito dahil bago pa man dumating ‘yung bagyo ay nakaalerto na ang ating NDRRMC at OCD sa lahat ng region na tatamaan ng bagyo (Our response is really good because the NDRRMC and the Office of Civil Defense in all the regions that were on the typhoon’s path were already alert even before it came),” said Lorenzana, who is also the Defense chief.

He also praised the uniformed personnel, especially the military, who responded to the needs of those who were trapped in their homes amid the heavy rainfall and needed rescuing.

“Sa kasalukuyan tumutulong ang tropa sa paglilinis ng debris at landslide (Right now, our troops are helping in the clearing operations),” he said.

Prior to Ulysses, Luzon was still reeling from the destruction caused by Super Typhoon “Rolly” earlier this month, which was immediately followed by typhoons “Siony” and “Tonyo.”

Affected

Meanwhile, more than 400,000 individuals have been evacuated before and during the onslaught of typhoon Ulysses, according to Jalad.

Prior to the onslaught of typhoon Ulysses, Jalad said local government units in “almost the whole of Luzon” carried out pre-emptive evacuation which saved 64,552 families or 231,312 persons.

But during the pounding of Ulysses, rescue personnel were able to rescue an additional 44,194 families or 170,500 individuals, he added.

Damage

Typhoon Ulysses’ damage to agriculture has already reached over P99 million, according to initial information from Jalad.

These were recorded in Central Luzon (P21.3 million); Calabarzon (P66.2 million); and Cordillera Administrative Region (P11.9 million). 

The damage to infrastructure, on the other hand, has yet to be verified by the NDRRMC.

 
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