Initial toll: 12 dead, 7 missing, 340k people displaced, infra destroyed
At least 12 were killed while seven remained missing as Odette, the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year uprooted trees, toppled power lines and flooded villages, barrelling across the archipelago Friday.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Ricardo Jalad, in a briefing led by President Rodrigo Duterte, said some 338,664 individuals, or equivalent to 84,674 families, have been evacuated in Regions 4-B, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 and Caraga.
The damage to infrastructure caused by Odette, which at one point was classified by the US-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center as a super typhoon, has been initially placed at more than P178 million by the Department of Public Works and Highways.
“These are only the roads and bridges, not included [are] the buildings, private structures,” Public Works Undersecretary Emerson Benitez said.
As of Friday noon, 16 road sections remained closed to traffic – two in Central Visayas, one in Eastern Visayas, five in Northern Mindanao, and eight in the Caraga region – due to fallen trees, flooding, soil collapse, landslide, road slip, damaged bridge, and vehicular accident.
Odette (international name: Rai) made its 9th landfall in the municipality of Roxas in Palawan Friday afternoon.
A total of 10,281 residents or 2,726 families in Palawan were staying in evacuation centers as Typhoon Odette moved towards the province on Friday, its provincial administrator said.
“We are seeing people walking in the streets, many of them shell-shocked,” ABS-CBN correspondent Dennis Datu reported from the hard-hit city of Surigao on the southern island of Mindanao.
“All buildings sustained heavy damage, including the provincial disaster office. It looks like it’s been hit by a bomb.”
Datu said the main roads leading into the coastal city had been cut off by landslides, fallen trees and toppled power poles.
“The wind was very strong. Everything sustained damage – roofs blown off, access roads blocked by landslides,” Surigao City Mayor Ernesto Matugas said.
“The devastation is hard to explain,” said Joel Darunday, 37, a tour operator in the central island province of Bohol, who was hunkered down at home with his family when the storm ripped off the roof.
“It was very strong. The last time I experienced something like this was back in the 1980s.”
Some 108 flights between Manila and various domestic routes were canceled as of Friday afternoon due to Odette, the Manila International Airport Authority said.
Odette has slightly weakened Friday night as it moved toward the West Philippine Sea.
The typhoon is forecast to move west northwestward and may exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility Saturday morning or early afternoon.
The Philippines – ranked as one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change – is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons every year, which typically wipe out harvests, homes and infrastructure in already impoverished areas.
The deadliest cyclone on record in the Philippines was Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013. AFP