Typhoon Ursula death toll rises to 50

MANILA, Philippines – A week since Typhoon Ursula (Phanfone) hit the Philippines’ central islands, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) counted at least 50 people killed in the storm.

The agency reported 3 additional fatalities from Leyte province on Tuesday, December 31, bringing the total up from the 47 deaths it tallied on Sunday, December 29.

Eastern Visayas, including Leyte, suffered a total of 16 deaths: 8 in Leyte, 5 in Eastern Samar, and one each in Biliran, Samar, and Southern Leyte.

The storm killed 26 people in Western Visayas: 16 in Iloilo, and 5 each in Aklan and Capiz. (READ: Flash floods from Typhoon Ursula sweep away family in Iloilo)

One person was killed in Cebu province in Central Visayas, and 7 in the Mimaropa island group: 5 in Oriental Mindoro and 2 in Occidental Mindoro.

Across these regions, 143 people were injured, and 5 people remain missing.

All in all, more than 2.1 million people from over 522,000 families were affected by Ursula. Of that number, nearly 85,000 people from more than 21,000 families are spending New Year’s Eve in evacuation centers.

Damage to agriculture and infrastructure was pegged at P1.084 billion, up from the earlier estimate of P1.079 billion. This was in the areas the typhoon grazed: Bicol, Mimaropa, and the entire Visayas.

At least 8 areas in Capiz were still flooded, and more than a hundred cities and municipalities were still without electricity.

Typhoon Ursula made landfall in the Philippines on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It packed 120 km/h winds with gustiness of up to 150 km/h. It exited the Philippine Area of responsibility on Saturday morning, December 28.

Several local government units declared a state of calamity, which would allow them to access reserved funds and ease restrictions on procurements to fast-track recovery efforts:

Casualty counts and estimates of the worth of damaged property tend to rise in the days and weeks following typhoons, as local governments and other groups assess the impact on their localities.

Some 20 typhoons pass through the Philippines every year, many of them deadly and destructive.

At times, communities still reeling from previous storms are hit by new ones. The most vulnerable victims of natural disasters are often the poor, who struggle to survive even under normal circumstances. – Rappler.com

JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.

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