A family gathers their belongings after Typhoon Yolanda destroyed their home in Barangay Baybay, Legazpi City. EDD GUMBAN

MANILA NOVEMBER 11, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Sheila Crisostomo - In the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda, a grim picture emerges, with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) saying the death toll could reach 1,200.

In Tacloban City alone, bodies, numbering more than 100 according to reports, littered the streets. In Hernani town in Eastern Samar, a local official was quoted as reporting 200 to 300 dead.

“That is only an estimate, not validated, no actual body count yet,” PRC secretary general Gwendolyn Pang told The STAR in a text message.

Yolanda, known internationally as Haiyan, was reported to be the strongest typhoon ever recorded to have made landfall, and was described by CNN as “3.5 times stronger than Hurricane Katrina” that caused massive destruction in the US southern state of Louisiana in 2005.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported 138 fatalities as of press time. Officials said they were having difficulty establishing contact with field units and local governments to get accurate information on the number of dead and injured as well as the extent of destruction.

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) director general William Hotchkiss said Tacloban airport official Efren Nagrama also asked for help for 100 more people badly injured.

Nagrama, however, said there were no casualties among airport personnel.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone quoted Arteche town Mayor Rolando Evardone as saying that police and Red Cross personnel had told him that the monster typhoon left about 200 to 300 people dead in Hernani town.

“I hope the report about casualties in Hernani is not true. According to the local Red Cross, the report came from Plan Philippines, an international NGO which has projects in several towns in Eastern Samar,” the lawmaker said.

“It appears there was minimal damage in northern municipalities of Eastern Samar up to Arteche,” he said, adding that 11 crewmen of a barge were reported missing in Borongan City.

Hotchkiss said the Tacloban Airport terminal had been badly damaged by the typhoon but personnel were able to open the runway to allow military and rescue flights to land. CAAP deputy chief John Andrews flew to Tacloban yesterday to assess the situation.

“The terminal, the tower, including communication equipment, were destroyed,” Andrews said.

Andrews said the report of Nagrama about the deaths was relayed by high-frequency radio to the authorities.

Radio messages to Manila had to be relayed through another airport in the Visayas once every five hours to conserve radio batteries.

“This report was relayed to us by our station manager so it is considered very reliable information,” Andrews told ABS-CBN. “According to the station manager the airport is completely ruined.”

Andrews said the deaths were likely caused by huge waves whipped up by the typhoon, with the airport and surrounding areas lying along the coast.

A journalist of GMA-7 also reported seeing about 20 bodies piled up in a church in Palo, some 10 kilometers south of Tacloban.

The 20 bodies were taken to the church in Palo that was used as an evacuation center but had to be abandoned when its roof was blown away, the TV network reported.

Its reporter said he counted at least 31 bodies, including the 20 at the Palo church, and 20 more, including a child who was washed ashore at a pier in Tacloban hours after Yolanda ripped through the coastal city.

The TV images showed howling winds peeling off tin roof sheets during heavy rain.

Authorities are now rushing rescuers and communication equipment to Tacloban.

The Philippine Air Force began flying C-130 planes full of relief supplies to Tacloban yesterday.

Military communication equipment will be installed in Tacloban to establish contact with the Armed Forces headquarters in Manila.

About 15,000 soldiers had been deployed to the disaster zones, military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.

“We are flying sorties to bring relief goods, materials and communication equipment,” Zagala said.

He said helicopters were also flying rescuers into priority areas, while infantry units deployed across the affected areas were also proceeding on foot or in military trucks.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) also deployed 150 policemen to help in the rescue and relief operations in Tacloban City.

Authorities earlier were unable to contact the worst affected areas after Yolanda – the strongest typhoon on record – made landfall Friday.

Most of the worst hit areas were cut off from communications throughout Friday, with power and telephone networks destroyed, and the first reports that began to emerge after daybreak yesterday painted a deeply ominous picture.

There were initial reports that only three people were killed and seven missing on Friday, but authorities feared the death toll was expected to rise given the ferocity of the typhoon.

Five other people have been confirmed killed elsewhere, including in Masbate and Quezon province.

At least three more people were killed in Palawan, ABS-CBN reported, citing a local disaster official.

Seven people in two pump boats were reported missing in Antique.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) yesterday reported 19 fatalities – three from Cebu, three in Antique, six in Capiz, three from Iloilo, one from Batangas and three from Coron, an island town in the northern tip of Palawan.

The NDRRMC said they are having difficulty establishing contact with field units and local governments.

Another area of particular concern was Guiuan, a fishing town of about 40,000 people in Samar that was the first to be hit after Yolanda swept in from the Pacific Ocean.

Gwendolyn Pang of the Philippine Red Cross said contact had not yet been made with Guiuan.

Pang also expressed concern for people in Capiz province.

She said most of the region’s infrastructure had been destroyed and many houses were “flattened to the ground.”

Unfolding scale of disaster

The government expressed alarm yesterday about the unfolding scale of the disaster brought by Yolanda.

“We are very concerned about the situation there,” Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras told reporters when asked about the deaths in and around Tacloban.

Almendras said the number of casualties could not be immediately determined, but that the figure was “probably in that range” given by the CAAP officials.

He said government troops were helping recover bodies.

In an interview with CNN, Almendras said, “We have all of the government resources,” including air and naval assets, now moving goods into the areas affected.

“We don’t have an immediate shortage (of relief goods) in the areas because we have prepositioned relief goods in all of these areas, but anticipating that this is going to last long, we want to be ahead of the curve, so we are trying to move as much relief goods as we can in anticipation of additional needs,” Almendras said.

He said there was aid already in each of the localities because “we were aware of the storm.”

He said President Aquino was very specific in his instructions to preposition relief goods in these areas.

“And these goods are supposed to be enough for two to three days,” he added.

Almendras said Aquino ordered the setting up of command centers in Eastern and Western Visayas to hasten government relief efforts.

He noted the regions are continuously hampered by lack of communications.

“The challenge right now is the reestablishment of communication and our (telecommunications) providers have committed to restore their services at the soonest possible time,” Almendras told the NDRRMC meeting at Camp Aguinaldo.

He said Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel Roxas II, who were both in Tacloban ahead of Yolanda’s landfall, also reported to President Aquino on Friday on the heavy casualties left by the storm in the city.

“The President had a chance to talk to Secretary Gazmin in the afternoon of Friday and the report of Secretary Gazmin was not good. Tacloban was very badly affected. The reports of the DND and DILG secretaries were quite accurate,” Almendras said.

He added the entire region of Cebu province and Eastern Samar, Bohol, Siquijor, Dumaguete City and Negros Occidental are experiencing erratic power supply.

The National Electrification Administration (NEA) reported that Leyte, Lubang, Romblon, Iloilo, Coron, Antique, Capiz, Mindoro, Biliran, Catbalogan, Ormoc, and Aklan are without electricity.

The Department of Education reported 10,390 schools were destroyed by the typhoon.

The CAAP announced the airports in Tacloban, Roxas City, Busuanga and Kalibo remained closed because of extensive damage.

However, the airports in Iloilo, Caticlan, Romblon, Dumaguete, Bacolod, Masbate, Legazpi and Surigao are now back to normal operations.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) said 75 domestic flights of PAL and PALex going to Caticlan and Kalibo, Aklan have been cancelled.

PAL also announced its flights from Manila-Taipei-Kalibo and those from Incheon were also cancelled, along with flights going to Tacloban, Cebu and Roxas City.

The Philippine Coast Guard, for its part, announced the ports in Panay Island, namely Dumangas, San Pedro, Iloilo Commercial Port, Iloilo River Port, Dumaguit (Allan), Lipata, San Jose (Antique), Jordan and Sibunag in Guimaras are open.

All the ports in Negros, including Bacolod, Bredco, San Carlos, Toledo, Danao, and Escalante, are also operational.

In Bicol, the ports in Matnog, Masbate, Pasacao, Tabaco and Legazpi are operational, as well as the ports in Surigao such as Surigao City, Lipata, San Jose del Carmen, Sta. Monica, Tandag, Cantilan, Aras-Aras and Lawigan.

In Puerto Princesa, the port in Coron is still being evaluated because of the damages it reportedly sustained, the PCG said. – With Aurea Calica, Jaime Laude, Lawrence Agcaoili, Mike Frialde, Marvin Sy, Rhodina Villanueva, Danny Dangcalan, Michelle Zoleta, Arnell Ozaeta, Evelyn Macairan, Celso Amo, AP


‘Sound of wind was eerie’ by Mars W. Mosqueda Jr. November 10, 2013 manila bulletin

Tacloban storm survivors sifting through the remains of their destroyed houses

Daanbantayan, Cebu – It came like roaring airplanes hovering above and huge trucks speeding back and forth through residential areas.

Those were the eerie sounds that scared residents out of their wits when super typhoon “Yolanda” smashed this town at 9:40 a.m. Friday.

“The sound of the wind was eerie. It made so much noise that I thought airplanes were passing above my roof,” said 45-year-old Vicente Pacaldo.

“The wind was strong, very strong. I heard it whistling and grumbling, then battering the roofs of houses and uprooting trees. The rain was not hard. It was just the eerie sound of the wind that was really very scary,” said Julian Jumabes.

The social media was also overflowing with eerie descriptions from residents. One Facebook user said the wind sounded like a scary howl. One user asked if it was the wind that he just heard or a flying airplane. But all flights were cancelled that day.

Daanbantayan was one of the most severely affected towns in Northern Cebu.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) said local authorities were still assessing the damage. Initial reports reaching the command center at the Cebu Provincial Capitol showed there were several houses that were damaged in Northern Cebu.

Damage to crops and farms were also reported in Bogo City and the towns of Medellin, Sogod, and San Remegio.

“We are also trying to establish contacts with local officials in Bantayan Island because Yolanda also made a landfall in the island at 10:40 a.m. today,” Sanchez said Friday, adding that some towns remained unreachable due to the shutting down of communication lines.

In Metro Cebu, the Visayan Electric Company (VECO) said it shutdown power supply in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay, Lapu-Lapu, and the towns of Consolacion, Minglanilla, Naga, and Liloan after it received reports of fallen electric posts.

The local governments of Cebu City, Mandaue, and Talisay also initiated forced evacuations in low-lying areas and near riverbanks as major rivers in those cities were almost at the point of overflowing.

The Mandaue-Mactan Bridge was also shutdown temporarily from motorists after a private car overturned while passing through the bridge at the height of the typhoon.

The Transcentral Highway, which connects the town of Balamban to Cebu City through the mountain barangays, was deemed impassable because of fallen trees.

All malls in Cebu were closed Friday but the management of SM Malls said they opened their malls to accommodate evacuees. SM operates two malls in Cebu.


Our Lady of Fatima statue trapped in Samar By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 10, 2013 - 12:00am 2 7 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The international pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima has been trapped in Eastern Samar, one of the areas battered by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

The image reportedly arrived in Dolores town last Thursday, where it was scheduled to stay overnight, according to CBCPNews, the official news service provider of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

CBCPNews said the icon was supposed to be transferred to Borongan last Friday but there was no confirmation if it arrived safely because of poor communication.

The icon should have been brought yesterday to the Archdiocese of Palo, Leyte which was also lashed by Yolanda.

The image, which came from Fatima, Portugal, on Sept. 16 was set to be brought to 41 archdioceses and dioceses all over the country until Dec. 18.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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