MANILA, Philippines – A day after Christmas, authorities have counted over 1,200 dead from flashfloods and landslides caused by Tropical Storm Sendong.
Benito Ramos, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), was quoted in reports as saying that the body count of the dead by the afternoon of Christmas Day had risen to 1,236. Previously, the NDRRMC’s December 25 report listed the number of dead as 1,100.
A total of 1,979 were reported injured, 1,079 were reported missing but subject to verification, and 441 were said to be either rescued or were survivors. Sendong has also caused damages, mostly to infrastructure, already worth over a billion pesos.
Ramos declared, “There is no Christmas here in Iligan” as the search for more bodies continued. Retrieval operations will stop only if rescuers no longer find a single body for three days, Ramos said.
Neither was there Christmas for soldiers and personnel of the Department of Social Welfare and Development who were involved in relief distribution operations in evacuation centers and other devastated areas.
Among survivors, simple Christmas meals were prepared to bring a semblance of holiday cheer.
Not enough shelters
Aid and relief goods continued to pour in for the victims of Sendong, but Ramos said the NDRRMC is looking for more warehouses to store relief goods. More volunteers are also needed to pack relief items, he added.
Displaced families must be relocated too and building shelters for them may take some time, even as long as six months. Within a week, classes are expected to resume and schools that are being used as evacuation centers will need to be cleared.
A total of about 695,195 persons were affected by the tropical storm that hit land at 2 am Saturday, December 17, dumping rains that caused floodwaters to unexpectedly rise within an hour.
Besides Iligan and Cagayan de Oro cities in Northern Mindanao, Dumaguete and Tanjay cities in Negros Oriental were also badly affected. Over 17,200 persons were affected in Dumaguete, while more than 18,300 were affected in Tanjay. Higher numbers were reported by the NDRRMC in Opol, Misamis Oriental at 21,102.
In Cagayan de Oro City, efforts to rebuild lives are being stymied by garbage blocking roads and sewage systems.
The stench of uncollected garbage that is a mix of dead livestock and pets, debris, and mud assaults the senses.
Volunteers who can help clean up are also badly needed so that survivors can move on and start anew. The city government in Cagayan de Oro has been swamped as dump trucks sent every day still do not seem to be enough to get rid of the trash quickly. – Rappler.com