Bicol OCD: Tropical Depression Usman death toll climbs to 68

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Bicol OCD: Tropical Depression Usman death toll climbs to 68
(UPDATED) The Office of Civil Defense -Bicol Region fears the number of fatalities will continue to increase

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The death toll from Tropical Depression Usman climbed to 68 with the number of fatalities expected to increase higher, said the Office of Civil Defense Bicol Region Monday, December 31.

Fifty-seven people died in the Bicol region, while 11 were killed in Samar, mostly due to landslides and drownings, the OCD officials said.

“I am afraid this (death toll) will still go up because there are a lot of areas we still have to clear,” said Claudio Yucot, Bicol civil defense director.

Earlier, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), said its record Sunday night, December 20, had 61 people dead, 18 people recorded missing and 12 others from Mimaropa, Bicol Region, and Eastern Visayas. They were also still validating reports Monday.

Landslides had occurred in Albay on Saturday, December 29 and Friday, December 28, which left at least 12 dead as of Sunday.

Apart from this, landslides were also reported in Nato town, Camarines Sur. Ten bodies were recovered in the area.

Yucot said many people failed to take necessary precautions because Usman was not strong enough to be rated as a typhoon by Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA)..

“People were overconfident because they were on (Christmas) vacation mode and there was no tropical cyclone warning,” Yucot told AFP.

Although Usman has been downgraded into a low pressure and has since moved westward away from the country, many affected areas were still experiencing seasonal rains, hampering rescue and recovery efforts, he added.

Bicol OCD counted 17 people still missing and more than 40,000 were displaced nationwide. 

In an updated report from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Disaster Response and Management Bureau (DRMB), 3,488 families or 13,469 persons were moved to 112 evacuation centers. The residents were from Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, and Eastern Visayas.

Meanwhile, the DSWD report also said 189 families or 939 individuals decided to stay with relatives and friends but were still being served by the agency.

So far, about P395,144 worth of aid has been provided by the DSWD to local government units. Emergency telecommunication equipment is also on standby if needed, the DSWD said.

According to data from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the low pressure area which used to be Tropical Depression Usman dumped large volumes of rainfall in parts of Luzon and the Visayas in just two days. (READ: How much rain did Tropical Depression Usman bring?)

Daet, Camarines Norte; Legazpi City, Albay; and Catarman, Northern Samar, had the most rain from Friday, December 28, to Saturday, December 29.

Heavy rains prompted local officials to declare a state of calamity in Camarines Sur, Albay, and Sorsogon.

Usman left the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Sunday, but the northeast monsoon or amihan is still affecting Luzon. – with reports from Sofia Tomacruz, Agence France Presse/

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