BACOLOD, Philippines – The death toll from Typhoon Odette (Rai) in Negros Occidental rose to 34 on Sunday, December 19.
The latest fatalities were recorded in the cities of Sipalay and Kabankalan, among the hardest-hit localities in the province.
As of 5 pm on Sunday, Sipalay City, 165.4 kilometers south of the province’s capital city Bacolod, had the most fatalities with 16, up from 13 on Saturday, December 18.
Salvador Mesa III of the city’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said two of the recent fatalities drowned from flash floods, while the other was hit by falling wood.
He said two bodies were immediately buried at a public cemetery “kay indi na kaya i-balsamar kay bloated na gid (because they can’t be embalmed anymore as their bodies were already bloated).”
Mesa said seven residents remain missing.
In Kabankalan City, also south of Bacolod, the death toll rose to nine on Sunday, from six the previous day.
Lieutenant Colonel Reymund Cruz, local police chief, said among the fatalities were five family members – a mother, her three children aged 17, 15, and 9, and their aunt – from Barangay Locotan. They were engulfed by the floodwaters, he said.
Four individuals were also reported missing, he added.
Cruz said Odette, which prompted the raising of Signal No. 4 in the central and southern parts of Negros Occidental, affected 12 barangays in the city proper of Kabankalan.
Some evacuees have returned to villages to check if they can still rebuild their houses, Cruz said.
But he added that activities end early in the city, which still has no electricity and very weak communication signals.
Roads have been partly cleared, however, and are now accessible. The first food packs from the provincial government arrived Saturday night, Cruz said.
Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said Binalbagan, Ilog, Isabela, La Carlota City, Manapla, and San Carlos City reported one fatality each while Moises Padilla had three.
Philippine National Police chief General Dionardo Carlos was in the province on Sunday to conduct an aerial survey in the southern part of Negros Occidental and hold a command conference in the provincial police headquarters in Bacolod.
Carlos instructed other police regional offices that were not affected by the typhoon to deploy their contingents, assets, and equipment to the affected provinces. – Rappler.com