MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Globe Telecom and Smart Communications said it will take two to 3 days before they can restore communication lines in provinces in Visayas hardest hit by Typhoon Yolanda (international codename Haiyan).
Globe and Smart said Saturday afternoon that they have started restoration work of facilities affected by Yolanda. The companies said that the “full normalization of service” will depend on the restoration of commercial power as Yolanda also toppled electricity lines.
Globe and Smart are the two major telecommunication companies in the Philippines.
“About 15% of our cellular coverage in the 3 regions of Central Philippines was affected by the super typhoon, most of these in Eastern Samar and Leyte which bore the brunt of the storm’s fury,” said Rolando Pena, head of technology services for PLDT and Smart.
Globe said that as of 12 pm of Saturday, damage assessment showed that 53% of its network in Visayas was “adversely affected” by the typhoon, up from its initial assessment of 26% Saturday morning.
Globe’s affected service areas include those in Aklan, Antique, Biliran, Bohol, Capiz, Eastern Samar, Guimaras, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Northern Samar, Siquijor, Southern Leyte and Western Samar.
Visayas lies in central Philippines, where Yolanda made landfall 6 times. Weather experts describe Yolanda as the world’s most powerful typhoon this year and one of the strongest to make landfall ever. It left the Philippine Area of Responsibility Saturday afternoon.
Smart said less than 1% of its network in Mindanao was affected, mostly in Surigao del Norte while less than 10% of the network in South Luzon was damaged, mostly in Masbate and Romblon.
“That is why we were able to continue providing services in areas such as Southern Leyte, Kalibo and Boracay in Aklan province,” Pena said.
“The teams that we prepositioned in the affected provinces started restoration work immediately after the storm passed. They put Ormoc City back on air last night and we are moving on to the surrounding municipalities from there,” he added.
Pena said in other areas, service is still down because of the power outage. He said Smart is dispatching generation sets to address this.
“We are also making available to local residents power in our cell sites to enable them to re-charge their mobile phones,” Pena said.
Smart and Sun Cellular said it set up Libreng Tawag (free calls) stations in the following sites:
- Brgy. 7 and San Jose Municipal Office in San Jose, Mindoro
- Rizal Elementary School evacuation center in Iloilo City
- San Francisco, Camotes Islands
- Tubigon Community Hospital in Potohan, Tubigon, Bohol
- East Central Elementary School in Tubigon, Leyte.
For those in Roxas City, Smart said members of the public may proceed to the local Smart cellsite for free charging of batteries of mobile phones while power is down.
“More Libreng Tawag and Libreng Charging stations are being set up,” it said.
Smart also urged its subscribers to donate to the Philippine Red Cross by texting RED <amount> to 4143 (ex. RED 100 to 4143). Donations are accepted in the following amounts: 10, 25, 50, 100, 300, 500, 1000.
Communication back in Roxas, Iloilo
Globe said communication services are back in Iloilo and Roxas City.
Service restoration in areas hard hit by the weather anomaly is expected within a 48-hour period, said Yoly Crisanto, Globe Head of Corporate Communications.
Globe’s voice, text and data services in the following areas are available:
- Antique – 45%
- Bohol – 64%
- Cebu – 60%
- Guimaras – 88%
- Iloilo – 64%
- Negros Occidental – 70%
- Negros Oriental – 87%
- Northern Samar – 8%
- Southern Leyte – 28%
- Siquijor – 100%
- Western Samar – 2%
Crisanto said the loss of communication services was due to multiple transmission link failures and prolonged commercial power outages following storm surges and strong winds from the typhoon.
“We have activated our Disaster Coordination Center in Lahug and our Regional Operations Center to make restoration efforts in the Visayas region. Globe technical team in the region continue to do coordination, monitoring and site assessment in affected areas,” Crisanto said.
Like Smart, Globe is also allowing the use of its manned cell sites in Bohol, Samar and Leyte as free charging stations. It said it is coordinating with teams in the affected areas to set up Libreng Tawag stations and provide relief operations as well.
The loss of communication and power lines is a major challenge to disaster officials and residents of Visayas.
Relatives of those living in some Visayas provinces had no word from their family members on Friday.
One of the most intense typhoons on record, Yolanda whipped the central parts of the country for most of Friday, November 8, killing at least 100 people and terrifying millions as monster winds tore apart homes. – Rappler.com
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