BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The running total of 28 dead in the province due to Typhoon Odette could drop as officials of towns and cities here are being urged by Capitol to review the lists of those they consider to have died due to the Category 5 storm.
As disaster czar Zeaphard Caelian urges a review, road clearing operations are going into full swing on the national highway leading to Sipalay City to allow relief goods to flow into the southern city that is turning out to be most affected so far in terms of missing and dead persons.
Caelian, who heads the Provincial Disaster Management Team, told DNX the death toll in Sipalay has risen to 15 as bodies are being recovered.
However, in a bit of good news, Caelian said the number of missing persons dropped to 15 from the initial 45 as at least 30 people were found, some seeking shelter in the houses of relatives in other villages.
Relatives of those reported to be missing were able to contact them as communication lines including cellular phone towers, are gradually being repaired and roads once blocked by fallen trees and other obstacles are being cleared.
Army Brigadier General Innocencio Pasaporte who commands the 303rd Brigade has ordered two battallions or about a thousand soldiers, deployed to Sipalay to help in the intensified clearing operations.
The 15th Infantry Battallion under the 302nd Brigade already based in Sipalay has started road clearing operations soon after typhoon winds ebbed, Pasaporte told DNX.
The city, however, 160 kilometers south of the capital, remains waterless and powerless.
In Hinobaan town, which is also powerless, some officials have bought generator sets and have opened their private residences to the public to charge their cellular phones and other devices.
Stories of deaths caused by the Category 5 storm continue to emerge, however.
Broadcaster Jeffrey Gelangre, a native of Sipalay, told DNX seven bodies were found, possible victims of drowning in floodwaters in the community of Bado in upland Gil Montilla village.
He added there are also talks of a family of 19 that got swept by raging floodwaters at the height of the storm in the village of Camindangan.
Caelian could not confirm this report yet, however.
Also today, the Coast Guard reported that it has sent its search and rescue vessel to Sipalay City to help in the continuing SAR efforts.
for Coast Guard said the BRP Nueva Vizcaya, a SARV, left Iloilo City today and is now on the way to Sipalay with 11 Coast Guard personnel and one official of the Office of Civil Defense on board.
The Coast Guard is also bringing the following kits: 150 for house repair, 30 for shelter, 500 for hygiene, and 30 for family. #OdettePH