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New storm threatens PH as ‘Urduja’ leaves

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By Ellalyn De Vera Ruiz and Restituto A. Cayubit

RUSHING TO HELP – Volunteers pack relief goods at the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) warehouse in Pasay City. Boxes filled with packed relief goods will be shipped out to victims of Tropical Depression ‘Urduja.’ (Camille Ante)

RUSHING TO HELP – Volunteers pack relief goods at the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) warehouse in Pasay City. Boxes filled with packed relief goods will be shipped out to victims of Tropical Depression ‘Urduja.’ (Camille Ante)

Tropical depression “Urduja” (international name “Kai-tak”) left the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) Tuesday noon, but another weather disturbance east of Mindanao is expected to enter the country today.

Urduja left 46 people dead in Eastern Visayas, a report from the Police Regional Office 8 (PRO 8), based in Palo, Leyte, stated. But the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) placed the death toll at 41, with 45 people still missing.

Even though Urduja is already outside the country, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) senior weather forecaster Chris Perez warned that sea travel remains risky over the western coastline of Palawan due to the surge of northeast monsoon or amihan.

All storm warnings have been lifted as of Tuesday, he said.

While Urduja has already left, the low pressure area (LPA) 1,170 kilometers east of Mindanao will likely re-intensify into a tropical depression within 24 to 48 hours, Perez said.

WAITING – Passengers heading home for Christmas Day patiently wait at the Araneta Bus Terminal in Cubao, Quezon City yesterday, their faces already reflecting the tiredness of waiting after several trips going to the Visayas were cancelled due to the rains and winds of Typhoon Urduja. (Alvin Kasiban)

WAITING – Passengers heading home for Christmas Day patiently wait at the Araneta Bus Terminal in Cubao, Quezon City yesterday, their faces already reflecting the tiredness of waiting after several trips going to the Visayas were cancelled due to the rains and winds of Typhoon Urduja. (Alvin Kasiban)

It is also forecast to enter the country’s area of responsibility today. Should the weather disturbance enter the vicinity as a tropical depression, it will be given a local name of “Vinta.”

According to Perez, 62 percent of tropical cyclones formed this time of the year tend to cross Visayas or Mindanao. He added that weather disturbances that develop east of Mindanao, or near the equatorial region, have a high possibility of reaching the typhoon category.

Perez advised the public to continue monitoring developments regarding this weather system, as it threatens to affect a huge portion of Visayas and Mindanao by weekend or before Christmas Day.

Expect more rains

Today, Cagayan, Isabela, and Aurora will experience cloudy skies with scattered rain showers and thunderstorms due to the tail-end of a cold front.

PAGASA advised the public to be cautious of possible flash floods or landslides due to scattered light to moderate to at times heavy rains.

The northeast monsoon or amihan, meanwhile, will bring scattered rains over Metro Manila, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mt. Province, Batanes, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, and Zambales.

The rest of the country will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms.

Meanwhile, Chief Inspector Ma. Bella Rentuaya, PRO 8 regional information officer, said that as of  9:30a.m. Tuesday, the total death toll now is 46 – 33 due to landslide and 13 due to drowning in floods.

She said all the six new fatalities were from Biliran, but their identities are not yet available.

Rescue and retrievals operations continue in Biliran.

“The retrieval operations are still ongoing but we are not finding anyone alive. We only find dead bodies,”SofronioDacillo, a disaster monitoring officer, told AFP by telephone from Biliran.

“We still have not given up hope of finding someone alive but the chances are slim.”

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Fourth Leyte Engineering District Office reported that damage to government infrastructures in the fourth district of Leyte was placed at P120 million.

Relief assistance

As this developed, Malacañang ordered on Tuesday the immediate distribution of 25,000 food packs to victims of Urduja in Biliran and to expedite the construction of all the damaged bridges in that province.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said President Duterte has committed to task the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to airlift and deliver the food packs to the different municipalities that were hit by the typhoon.

“I think it was a good visit of the President. The President announced, among others, that 25,000 food packs are already in Biliran as we speak,” Roque said in a press briefing in Malacanang.

Duterte’s quick action was prompted by requests from local government officials in the province who sought for early delivery of food packs since supplies in some areas are only good until Monday.

Roque also said Duterte also asked members of the Cabinet, specifically Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, to hasten the building of the damaged bridges in Naval, Biliran.

He said Villar assured the President that the two bridges could be finished in a month’s time

During the interaction with local officials of Biliran, Duterte asked Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to be vigilant in the monitoring of possible surges in prices of commodities.

Duterte likewise instructed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the NDRRMC to intensify efforts to recover the still missing individuals.

P10 M from PCSO

A total of P10 million will be released by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to aid Urduja victims.

Jose Jorge Corpuz, PCSO chairman, said the board will tackle during its regular meeting today the release of additional funds for the typhoon victims.

“We initially approved the immediate release of P10 million to buy medicines and water for the typhoon victims. We have a yearly calamity fund of P100 million approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for natural and man-made disasters. For 2017, we’ve more than P95 million left. So we can use that for the typhoon victims,” PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan said in a statement.

According to Balutan, he will recommend to the board to forego a portion of the budget for the Yuletide fellowship of PCSO employees for the purchase of medicines, water as well as to defray the hospitalization expenses of individuals injured during the typhoon’s onslaught.

“We immediately come to the aid of calamity victims and this is our priority as a charitable government agency.” (With reports from Roy C. Mabasa, Jel Santos, Francis T. Wakefield, and Nestor L. Abrematea)

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