MANILA, Philippines (Updated) – Relief goods may now be transported to Tacloban City, Leyte via land transport.
Land routes from Metro Manila all the way to Tacloban are now passable as of Saturday afternoon, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas told ANC Saturday, November 9.
Vehicles from Manila may travel all the way to Sorsogon and take a roll on/roll off (RoRo) ship to Samar, then travel to Tacloban by land again via the San Juanico bridge.
Roxas urged everyone to donate useful items, including food, water, blankets and tarpaulins, for the affected residents.
“Whatever is being brought in is not going to be enough,” Roxas told ANC. “The enormity of the destruction is huge and it’s hard to imagine and I dont know what pictures have been sent out so I’m sure people cannot imagine the destruction but it’s really very bad.”
Before the road to the airport was cleared, it took relief personnel the whole day to traverse a 15 kilometer-road leading to the location.
Despite the devastation brought by Typhoon Yolanda that left only a few homes standing in Tacloban, the San Juanico bridge that links Samar and Leyte remained intact, Roxas said.
As of Saturday afternoon, AFP detachments from Samar have been able to “punch through” the debris on the Leyte side of the San Juanico bridge. With the road cleared, vehicles loading relief goods could now reach certain areas in the Visayas hit by Yolanda.
“The land route from Manila is now open – Manila all the way to Bicol, crossing over to Samar, Catbalogan are open; all the way down to San Juanico,” Roxas said. “So relief goods can also come by truck to Tacloban, Leyte.”
Meanwhile, Tacloban Airport remains closed to commercial flights. (READ: 8 airports reopen as CAAP assess damage)
Scouts on bicycles sent out to assess damage
Hours after Yolanda left the Philippines, authorities still had difficulty providing an accurate count of the total cost of damage and the number of casualties due to the lack of communication lines in some towns. (READ: Globe, Smart: 2-3 days to restore services)
To help assess the situation, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police deployed scouts on bicycles to get to hard-to-reach areas, Roxas said. Hopefully, through them, officials would have a clearer picture of the extent of the damage, and provide more information.
Additional police and military forces are set to be deployed to affected areas by Sunday morning, according to Roxas.
Asked how authorities are assessing which areas to prioritize for search and rescue, as well as relief operations, Roxas said: “I think it’s not so much by choice but by circumstance here. If they’re inaccessible, it’s difficult to send a truck there to respond.”
President Benigno Aquino III is set to visit Tacloban on Sunday. – Rappler.com
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